Sydney Howe

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Sydney Howe (1949-1996)

According to a New York Time obituary, "Sydney Howe an early fighter for clean soil, water and air who was one of the first to balance the needs of the environment with those of poor people in the cities, died on Monday at his home in Holderness, N.H. He was 67...

"By the 1960's and 70's, when protection of the environment became an overriding social and political issue, it was already a deeply personal one for Mr. Howe, who was an ardent hunter and fisherman, a member of the board of the National Audubon Society and active in many other environmental groups.

"In 1965 he joined the Conservation Foundation, a nonprofit research and educational organization, and became acting director in 1969. He became president later that year and served until 1973...

"Mr. Howe was an organizer of the first Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970. A full three years before that, he lamented what he saw as a form of discrimination among conservationists. "We are today a racially segregated profession, heavily populated by so-called rugged outdoorsmen," he declared at a 1967 conference. "Conservation must now be of and for increasingly urban environments and their people."

"In 1976, Mr. Howe founded the Urban Environment Foundation. It was renamed the Human Environment Center, and with him as executive director it continued to focus attention on environmental problems of the poor as it pushed for greater minority participation in jobs related to the environment.

"He sometimes said that his concern for social justice was inherited. His maternal grandfather, Gen. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, commanded an all-black unit of Union soldiers in the Civil War and later founded the Hampton Institute, a Virginia college for black students. Mr. Howe's father, the Rev. Arthur Howe, was its president." [1]

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  1. Sydney Howe, 67, Environmentalist, Is Dead, The New York Times, accessed October 7, 2008.