The following was submitted by Stephen Kercher, associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh:
It was raining April 21, 1970, and the students gathered in the Environmental Crisis Organization office in Clow Faculty were concerned that bad weather might deter community members and students from attending the campus Earth Day teach-in scheduled the next day.
In the end, they didn’t need to worry; the forums, speeches, documentary screenings, panels and “environmental happening” scheduled in buildings throughout campus (all classes were cancelled) on April 22, 1970, would be attended by an estimated 5,000 people.
Earth Day 1970 capped a period of mounting concern within northeastern Wisconsin and the United States over the destruction of the earth’s ecological balance. It also marked a significant moment in time when young Americans resolved to change habits that were detrimental to the environment and, at the same time, exert pressure governmental and regulatory agencies to respond to the crisis.
In recognition of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, this joint faculty/staff/student research project at UW Oshkosh aims to recapture the original event and the spirit that inspired it: www.uwosh.edu/archives/earthday.
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