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Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the cover of her book

April 6, 2018, Page A10


By Annie Reid and Scott Shumway
Westborough Community Land Trust

The legacy of Marjory Stoneman Douglas

“So, who was Marjory Stoneman Douglas and what did she do to have a school named after her?”

This question refers to the Florida school that came so tragically to our attention on Valentine’s Day. Both the question and its answer come from Scott Shumway, who is professor of biology at Wheaton College (Norton, MA) and past president of the Westborough Community Land Trust. He kindly wrote the following account for readers of Nature Notes and for nature lovers everywhere.

“Marjory Stoneman Douglas was one of the greatest environmentalists of the 20th Century, her 108 years of life occupying all but the last two years of that century. She was a 1912 graduate of Wellesley College. She was a journalist for the Miami Herald and wrote about women’s suffrage, racism, and the environment. She is best known for her book “The Everglades: River of Grass,” which was published in 1947. Her advocacy for the preservation of the Everglades helped with the formation of Everglades National Park. She also fought against plans to construct an airport in the Everglades, against big sugar corporations responsible for polluting Everglades waters with pesticides and fertilizers, and against water diversion plans of the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1993 she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.

“In 1990 a school in Parkland Florida was named in her honor. A friend recently asked if the legacy of the River of Grass has been transformed into a legacy of a River of Tears. Marjory Stoneman Douglas spent a century standing up for women’s rights, equality for all, and environmental protection. When she stood up, all 5 foot 2 inches of her, people listened. The students of her school in Parkland Florida have by circumstance chosen to become outspoken advocates for their rights and the rights of others and for common sense gun regulation in our nation. The name of Marjory Stoneman Douglas has been stained by the unfortunate events, but thanks to the actions of these students, her memory has not been and will not be spoiled. Marjory Stoneman Douglas would be very proud of these courageous young citizens and would certainly have marched with them.”

Scott supplied this excerpt from her “River of Grass”:

"There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them; their vast glittering openness, wider than the enormous visible round of the horizon, the racing free saltness and sweetness of their massive winds, under the dazzling blue heights of space. They are unique also in the simplicity, the diversity, the related harmony of the forms of life they enclose. The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida. It is a river of grass."

Nature Notes is printed in The Westborough News on behalf of WCLT (Westborough Community Land Trust). Report your own local nature sightings (or check out what others have seen) on WCLT's Facebook page! Find more information about enjoying nature in Westborough, including trail maps and a calendar of events, at the WCLT website

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