Lehman College to Celebrate Earth Day April 25

Planet EarthLehman College will celebrate Earth Day on Wednesday, April 25, with a special evening dedicated to the life of the late Dr. Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Green Belt Movement. The movement aims to empower communities to protect the environment and to promote good governance and the culture of peace. This free event, which the College holds each year, will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the Music Building’s East Dining Room. The community is invited to attend.

The evening’s program will include a showing of the film “Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai,” followed by a discussion with Carter Via, the founder and executive director of Cross Cultural Thresholds and a friend of Dr. Maathai. Via began organizing and leading work trips and educational cross-cultural immersions in the early 1990s.

As the founder and executive director of Bridges to Community Inc., he led hundreds of trips to Nicaragua for high school students, college students, families, churches, civic groups, and business leaders. In the late 1990s, Carter was introduced to Dr. Maathai and together they designed the Green Belt Safaris, a 15-day travel adventure to Kenya involving home visits, environmental education, tree-planting, and game viewing.

Born in Nyeri, Kenya, Dr. Maathai was an international figure who fought for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation. From 1976-1987, she was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya and served as its chairperson from 1981-1987. During this time, she began her grassroots campaign to work with women’s groups to plant trees. The movement eventually grew into a Pan African Green Belt Network, with individuals from different African countries taking up the charge for a greener, cleaner planet.

Dr. Maathai was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate. She received her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., her master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and her doctorate degree from the University of Nairobi in 1971.

Earth Day is an internationally recognized day of environmental awareness that began in April 1970. An estimated 500 million people now celebrate Earth Day each year.