On 22 April 1970, 20 million people took part in a “national teach-in on the environment,” organized by Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson and Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey. The meetings, protests, conferences, speeches and discussion groups held across the country that day proved there was wid-spread support for wildlife preservation, conservation and pollution control. In anticipation of the first Earth Day, President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and signed the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts into law.

The green movement went by the name of Ecology in the 1970s and it had its own flag. The Ecology symbol, an “e” (environment) with an overlaid “o” (organism), was designed by Ron Cobb, who published it on November 7, 1969, in the Los Angeles Free Press, then placed it in the public domain. Look magazine combined Cobb’s ecology symbol with a green American flag to use in its Earth Day issue of 21 April 1970.

The Look graphic was widely reproduced and inspired 16-year old Betsy Vogel of Louisiana to make the flag to fly at her school on the first anniversary of Earth Day. School District officials forbade her from doing so, but after Vogel appealed to the state legislature and governor, the district relented and allowed ecology flag to fly on 22 April 1971.

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