The First ‘Earth Day’ – April, 1970

Just under 41 years ago, in April of 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, spoke to the press about his idea of a “national teach-in on the environment”. After building a large national staff and promoting the idea across the county, Nelson’s idea began to take off.

Walter Cronkite's Earth Day report, April, 1970

On the 22nd of April, 1970, an estimated 20 million Americans demonstrated in rallies across the United States. Colleges, in particular, organized protests in defense of the environment. Groups speaking out against pollution, oil spills and toxic dumping now found like-minded individuals to band together with in common cause. The hippies of the sixties had finally become organized.

April 22, 1970. Earth Day gathering in Philly.

Earth Day is still celebrated today and it all began at the beginning of the so-called “Me Decade”. See that? The 70s weren’t only about plush shag carpeting and Key Parties now were they? To quote EarthDay.org:

“The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. ‘It was a gamble,’ Gaylord recalled, ‘but it worked.’ ”

Read more about Earth Day at EarthDay.org and the Earth Day Wiki.

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