Lech Walesa led Solidarity, a¬†workers’ movement that resisted Poland’s Communist government. Solidarity’s success in securing freer elections contributed to ending the Cold War.

Thirty years ago this month, in November 1989, Walesa visited the United States. He stopped in Chicago, which has one of the world’s largest populations of Polish speakers. Mayor Richard M. Daley, Governor James R. Thompson, and other officials welcomed Walesa and held a luncheon in his honor.

Lech Walesa addresses a Chicago gathering as Mayor Richard M. Daley applauds, November 18, 1989

Lech Walesa addresses a Chicago gathering as Mayor Richard M. Daley applauds, November 18, 1989. RMD_07_0062_0010_002_030A

Mayor Richard M. Daley speaks with Lech Walesa at a dinner to honor the Polish leader. Illinois Governor James R. Thompson looks on, November 18, 1989

Mayor Richard M. Daley speaks with Lech Walesa at a dinner to honor the Polish leader. Illinois Governor James R. Thompson looks on, November 18, 1989. RMD_07_0062_0010_003_017A

A little more than a year after this visit, Walesa was elected president of Poland.