After having little success getting Congress to take action (Sound familiar?), he was inspired by the anti-Vietnam War movement to begin sponsoring teach-ins on college campuses across the country. He hoped that, by starting a grass roots movement, the government would be forced to take environmental issues more seriously. In many ways Gaylord’s ideas had a lot in common with the labor movement and leaders like Cesar Chavez.

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As Senator Gaylord’s vision began to take shape he decided that designating a single day for these teach-ins would mobilize many more people and would have a greater impact than if they were spread throughout the year. He chose April 22nd because it fell between spring break and final exams for college students. Initially called the National Teach-In, it was renamed Earth Day in a New York Times article promoting the event and clearly that was a much catchier name. In a speech delivered in Denver, CO on April 22, 1970, Gaylord said: “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”