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Photo: Earth Day demonstrators at Dept. of Interior
Quote:It was one of the largest peaceful demonstrations in human history, (an event) sacred in my memory(Endquote)
— Bryon Kennard, Grassroots coordinator at the time with the Conservation Foundation
Earth Day — 1970


The first International Earth Day was observed on April 22, 1970. An estimated 20 million Americans participated in special events all over the country. All three major networks and PBS televised activities of the day. These included teach-ins, rallies, and speeches where people demanded that more be done to protect the earth's resources. That year, Congress enacted 28 environmental laws.

Photo: Earth Day demonstratorIn Washington, Earth Day demonstrators gathered at the Washington Monument to hear speeches and songs by performers such as folk singer Pete Seeger. Five thousand people marched to the Monument. Twenty million people across the nation gathered in parks, town squares and main avenues to celebrate Earth Day locally.

The oratory, one of the wire services observed, was "as thick as the smog at rush-hour;" that was hardly an exaggeration, for Earth Day attracted enthusiastic support from all bands on the political spectrum — the New Left, the Old Right, the continuous Center. . . The environmentalist, Denis Hayes, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying,

"It was something magical and catalytical... touching a huge cross section of Americans."

Next: May Day Anti-War Protest — 1971 »
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All text by Jeanne Houck | Design by James Johnson | Copyright © 1995-2003 American Documentary, Inc.