Earth Day and Beyond: Gaylord Nelson’s Good Fight

U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day, an international event now celebrated in nearly 200 countries, and observed in classrooms and on college campuses the world over.

In 1969, as a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson came up with one of the most powerful ideas of his time: Earth Day, inspired by the teach-ins dealing with the Vietnam War. Earth Day was an instant success, drawing 20 million participants the first year (1970). This public show of concern put the environment on the national agenda and paved the way for the passage of 28 major legislative acts such as the amended Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Until his recent death at age 89, Nelson continued his fight with the same convictions he championed as a young man, appealing to children and adults to make care of the earth a national priority for future generations.



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