The Daily Climate discusses how Earth Day gave birth to environmental movement. Denis Hayes, one of the event’s founders, recalls the first and how its influence spread.
Denis Hayes was a 25-year-old student at Harvard Kennedy School in 1969 but dropped out after a semester to become a principal organizer of a grass-roots nonprofit that planned a nationwide rally on April 22, 1970, an event they would call Earth Day.
That one-day gathering to raise awareness of threats to the environment, held in hundreds of cities and towns across the country, attracted a reported 20 million people.
Now CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, a Seattle nonprofit that promotes and supports environmental and climate protection efforts in the Pacific Northwest, Hayes spoke with the Harvard Gazette for Earth Day’s 50th anniversary about the birth of the event, how he stumbled into a leadership role as a Kennedy School student, and Earth Day’s lasting influence on environmental policy.