John McConnell (peace activist)

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John McConnell
John McConnell Mar15 2008 cmm.jpg
McConnell in front of his home in Denver, Colorado, USA with the Earth Flag he designed
Born(1915-03-22)March 22, 1915
DiedOctober 20, 2012(2012-10-20) (aged 97)
Known forFounder of Earth Day

John McConnell (March 22, 1915 – October 20, 2012[1]) was the founder and creator of Earth Day,[2][3] and The Earth Society Foundation.[4][5] He was known for designing the Earth Flag, pursuing causes relating to peace, religion, and science.[6][7][8]

Early years[edit]

John McConnell was born on March 22, 1915, in Davis City, Iowa, United States. He was the son of a Pentecostal preacher[9] and traveling doctor.[6] His first interest in the Earth began in 1939 while partnering with Albert Nobell, a chemist, in the Nobell Research Laboratory in Los Angeles that built a factory for the manufacture of plastics.[6] Realizing how much the manufacture of plastic polluted the Earth, his concern for ecology grew. Afterward, he was a lifetime believer in care of the environment, founded on his Christian beliefs. He stated that, leading into World War II, he believed that love and prayer could be more powerful than bombs.[6]

On October 31, 1957, soon after the first successful Sputnik launch, McConnell wrote an editorial[where?] entitled, "Make Our Satellite A Symbol Of Hope", calling for peaceful cooperation in the exploration of Space with a visible "Star of Hope" satellite.[6] This led him to create a "Star of Hope" organization to foster international cooperation in space.[10]

Major actions and campaigns[edit]

Peace activism[edit]

In 1959 to pursue his dream of peace, John McConnell moved to California where he and his co-publisher, Erling Toness, founded the "Mountain View"[clarification needed]. Along with the "Mountain View", he organized a campaign in San Francisco in 1962 called "Meals for Millions". It was used to feed thousands of Hong Kong refugees. In 1963, after the "Meals for Millions" campaign, McConnell worked on another campaign called "Minute for Peace" for seven years following "Meals for Millions". He began his "Minute for Peace" campaign with a broadcast[where?] on December 22, 1963, ending the mourning period for the late president, John F. Kennedy. On June 26, 1965, McConnell spoke at the National Education Association Convention in Madison Square Garden, where the public[who?] came together for a "Minute for Peace".[citation needed]

Earth Day[edit]

McConnell's concern for the environment grew in the late 1950s and early 1970s. A Christian, he believed humans have an obligation to take care of the Earth, and to share its resources equally, based on such passages as Psalms 115:16, "The earth has been given to the children of men."[11] He was moved when he saw the first picture of the Earth printed in Life magazine. Later that picture became the symbol on the Earth Day flag which he designed and created.[10]

In October 1969, at the UNESCO conference in San Francisco, McConnell proposed a global holiday to celebrate Earth's life and beauty and to advance peace. Along with the celebration of life on Earth, he intended Earth Day to alert people about the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balance upon which all life on Earth depends. The proposal won strong support and was followed by an Earth Day Proclamation by the City of San Francisco on March 1, 1970, "Honor the Earth" and the first celebration of Earth Day on March 21, 1970.[6] In June 1970, McConnell created the Earth Day Proclamation for worldwide use and awareness, which declared the principles and responsibilities the signers undertook to care for the Earth. It was signed by 36 world leaders, including UN Secretary General U Thant, Margaret Mead, John Gardner and others.[6]

The spring equinox Earth Day is celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere in many cities with ringing of peace bells. Earth Day has been celebrated annually since 1970 at the United Nations with ringing of the UN Peace Bell.[6]

The Earth Society Foundation, Inc.[edit]

In June 1973, McConnell formed "The Earth Society".[clarification needed][4] Margaret Mead later joined the foundation in September 1976[4] as the international chairman of Earth Day.[4] The Earth Society, Inc. became The Earth Society Foundation, Inc. in December 1976.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Megan Mitchell (October 28, 2012). "Vagabond youth led Earth Day founder John McConnell to life of peace". The Denver Post. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "John McConnell's Earth flag". Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  3. ^ "The Authentic Earth Flag - History". Archived from the original on October 24, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Earth Society Foundation - History". Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Earth Society Foundation - SourceWatch". Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "John McConnell autobiography". Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  7. ^ "Vagabond youth led Earth Day founder John McConnell to life of peace". October 27, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  8. ^ R-C, Jonni Hill, Special to the. "How did Earth Day really begin?". Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b "Bill McConnell autobiography". Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
  11. ^ Sparks and Rogers. "John McConnell, Jr. and the Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day" (PDF). Assemblies of God Heritage. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 31, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.

External links[edit]