1999 Earth Day Information Center


Earth Day 1999 Fact Sheet


The History of Earth Day


April 22, 1999 marks the 29th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Originally called the "First Environmental Teach-in," Earth Day was modeled after the anti-Vietnam War teach-ins of the late 1960s. An estimated 20 million Americans participated in environmental rallies, demonstrations and other activities on that first Earth Day. Former Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) was the chief organizer of the event. In addition, Nelson recruited Denis Hayes, at the time a recent graduate of Stanford University, to assist in organizing the nationwide Earth Day activities. Recalled Nelson in an October 1990 speech: "...[T]he idea for Earth Day occurred to me in late July 1969, while on a conservation speaking tour out West. At the time there was a great deal of turmoil on the college campuses over the Vietnam War. Protests, called anti-war teach-ins, were being widely held on campuses across the nation. I read an article on the teach-ins, and it suddenly occurred to me, why not have a nationwide teach-in on the environment? That was the origin of Earth Day."


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