FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Kathy Rowan, 704.338.7219 or [email protected]
Stephanie Ansaldo, 704.347.3844 or [email protected]
Elie Wiesel to Visit Charlotte in 2007 for Echo Foundation’s 10th Anniversary and ‘Voice Against Indifference Initiative’
Nobel Laureate and Holocaust Survivor to Hold Student Dialogues, Public Lectures
and Community Forums
Charlotte, NC (Feb. 6, 2006) – The Echo Foundation announced that its co-founder and honorary chairperson Elie Wiesel, 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor, will return to Charlotte in 2007 for a series of community events celebrating the Charlotte-based educational foundation’s 10th anniversary. Echo president and co-founder Stephanie Ansaldo says plans are underway to develop a far-reaching and inclusive educational program to be highlighted by a dialogue with area high school students, a public lecture, and leadership forums that advance Wiesel’s message of human dignity, justice and moral courage. (For a photo of Mr. Wiesel, go to www.cpwadv.com/pr/eliewiesel.jpg.)
Wiesel’s visit will be The Echo Foundation’s 2007 “Voices Against Indifference Initiative,” an annual program that features speakers whose life’s work illustrates how one person can make a difference that benefits humanity and changes the world. The foundation expects to announce the exact date (tentatively slated for late Feb. or March) and volunteer opportunities within the next few months. Wiesel’s last Charlotte visit included a sold-out presentation at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, with some 2,100 people in attendance.
Ansaldo, who launched The Echo Foundation at Wiesel’s behest following his March 1997 visit to Charlotte, notes that Wiesel’s return will hold special significance. “Without question, this is an extraordinary opportunity for Charlotte to focus on urgent humanitarian issues through the eyes of Elie Wiesel, whose courageous actions and profound literary works resonate throughout the world,” she said. “At the same time, we hope Professor Wiesel will be honored to witness first-hand the resounding impact of his message in our community via Echo programming during the past decade.” Wiesel contributed seed money to help start The Echo Foundation and servers as its inspirational leader and advisor, regularly consulting with the foundation on its programming and events.
One of Wiesel’s most revered works, Night, his moving personal chronicle of his family’s internment in the Auschwitz death camp, was recently chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the next selection for her television book club. Winfrey has also announced that she and Wiesel will travel to Auschwitz, and that he will appear on her show later this month.
Ansaldo says this year’s Echo “Voices Against Indifference Initiative” is a fitting prelude to Wiesel’s visit next year. The 2006 program, “Echo Returns: Young Heroes of Hope” features five former Echo students who are serving humanity in various ways across the globe, drawing inspiration, in part, from Wiesel’s message that is embedded in all Echo programming.
The Echo Foundation’s Annual Award Dinner will be held at 7 p.m., Feb. 27, 1006, at the Westin Hotel, and will honor the five young leaders, as well as noted community philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur Smoky Bissell. Tickets ($200 per person, or tables and corporate sponsorships ranging from $2,000 – $10,000) are available by calling 704.347.3844.
About Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, now part of Romania. At age 15, he and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished; his two older sisters survived. Wiesel and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.
After the war, Wiesel studied in Paris and later became a journalist. During an interview with the distinguished French writer, Francois Mauriac, he was persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps. The result was his internationally acclaimed memoir, La Nuit, or Night, which has since been translated into more than thirty languages. The most recent translation, by his wife, Marion, is based on the French edition, first published in 1958. The new translation was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her television book club in January 2006. The publisher is Hill & Wang.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel as Chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980, he became the Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He is also the Founding President of the Paris-based Universal Academy of Cultures and the Chairman of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, an organization he and his wife created to fight indifference, intolerance and injustice. He has received more than 100 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning.
A devoted supporter of Israel, Wiesel has also defended the cause of Soviet Jews, Nicaragua’s Miskito Indians, Argentina’s Desaparecidos, Cambodian refugees, the Kurds, victims of famine and genocide in Africa, victims of apartheid in South Africa, and victims of war in the former Yugoslavia. For more than 10 years, Elie and his wife Marion have been especially devoted to the cause of Ethiopian-born Israeli youth through the Foundation’s Beit Tzipora Centers for Study and Enrichment.
Teaching has always been central to Wiesel’s work. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he is a member of the faculty in the Department of Religion as well as the Department of Philosophy. Previously, he served as Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York (1972-76) and the first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University (1982-83).
He is the author of more than 40 books of fiction and non-fiction, including “A Beggar in Jerusalem” (Prix Médicis winner), “The Testament” (Prix Livre Inter winner), “The Fifth Son” (winner of the Grand Prize in Literature from the City of Paris), and two volumes of his memoirs.
For his literary and human rights activities, he has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal and the Medal of Liberty Award, and the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor. In 1986, Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for Peace, and soon after, Marion and Elie Wiesel established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. An American citizen since 1963, Elie Wiesel lives in New York with his wife and son.
About the Echo Foundation
The Echo Foundation was founded in 1997 to carry on the message Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel brought to Charlotte that year–a call to action for human dignity, justice and moral courage. The Echo Foundation brings speakers and programs to Charlotte that illustrate how one person can make a difference for humanity through its “Voices Against Indifference Initiative.” Last year, five internationally renowned Nobel Laureates in science and medicine visited Charlotte for a series of educational programs and community forums. Previous Echo speakers also include Doctors without Borders founder Bernard Kouchner, Harvard Afro-American Studies Department Chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr., Columbia Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, human rights advocate Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, and Chinese dissident Harry Wu.
For additional information about The Echo Foundation and upcoming programs, visit www.echofoundation.org or call 704.347.3844.