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WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party of the United States is mourning the passing of Dr. Wangari Maathai and celebrating the life of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Mazingira Green Party and the Green Belt Movement
In 2002, Dr. Maathai was elected to the Kenyan Parliament on the Green Party ticket in the first free elections held in the country in decades and later appointed Kenyan Deputy Environment Minister. She was a close friend to Greens in the US and throughout the world and in May 2008 hosted an Global Greens conferencein Nairobi.
Dr. Maathai and the women-based Green Belt Movement, which planted more than 30 million trees, received numerous awards, including the Petra Kelly Prize for Environment, named for the founder of the first Green Party in Germany. The first environmentalist and first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she was jailed in 1991 for working to stop deforestation in Kenya.
African Greens (Coalition of Green Parties and political movements in Africa) released this statement.
• Theresa El-Amin, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States: "I heard Dr. Maathai speak at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, two years ago. Her influence was reflected on the campus with the planting of four trees in her honor. She was beautiful in her African dress as she told wonderful stories of her childhood and the awakening she experienced on how all life is interdependent. Several members of the North Carolina Green Party, along with students from all over the state, attended the special lecture."
• Marian Douglas-Ungaro, co-chair of the International Committee (http://www.gp.org/committees/intl), member of the Green Party Black Caucus (http://www.gp.org/caucuses/black/index.php), and DC Statehood Green: "I was in contact with Dr. Maathai when I lived in Kenya, 2001-2004. Almost everyday I drove past the Greenbelt Movement billboard in the Muthaiga neighborhood that inspired people to action. Black Greens will continue to work to encourage many more African and Afrodescendant women, men, and youth to continue the social and environmental work which Dr. Maathai both started and inspired."
• Morgen D'Arc, co-founder of the Green Party National Women's Caucus (http://www.gp.org/caucuses/women/index.php), recalling Dr. Maathai's 2002 visit to Maine as featured speaker for the Maine Green Independent Party: "At the time, I was working statewide with Women in Green Politics, an organization I had founded the year before. Dr. Maathai opened my eyes. Her courage, determination, focus on women, poverty and the environment, what she had accomplished and at the same time her gentleness, patience and warmth really reached me. The inspiration I gained from Dr. Maathai's visit was with me for years, as I first co-founded and then organized and led the National Women's Caucus. When I learned yesterday that she was gone, it was as if a gaping hole opened in front of me. It's just way too soon. She will not be forgotten and will no doubt continue to inspire many, as she did me."
• Thomas Muhammad, co-chair of the Green Party Black Caucus: "The Green Party Black Caucus joins the whole world, particularly African Greens, in their loss of such a giant sister like Wangari Maathai. Her words should serve as a wake up call for all political parties the world over. She said, 'As long as there is no trust and confidence that there will be justice and fairness in resource distribution, political positioning will remain more important than service.' We will miss you deeply, soft-spoken sister."
• Greg Gerritt, Green Party of Rhode Island and International Committee member: "Dr Maathai's work on the reforestation of Africa has ben one of the more hopeful activities on the planet, a key to both ecological and economic revival."
• Audrey Clement, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and candidate for Arlington County Board in Virginia (http://www.audreyclement.org): "Women around the world are bereft of a great leader in Wangari Maathai. In drawing a connection between the environment and the power and rights of women throughout the world, Dr. Maathai altered the way we think about both. Wangari Maathai will be remembered as a visionary leader, like Rachel Carson, whose actions saved our planet."
• John Rensenbrink, Maine Green Independent Party and International Committee member: "Wangari Maathai was our keynote speaker at the Bowdoin College conference in February 2002 on Race, Justice, and the Environment. Having organized that three-day conference connecting social justice, race, and ecology, I was bowled over by her magic and warmth, her natural eloguence, and her powerful commitment to a new way to live on this earth. The day after the conference she stayed to address a special meeting of the the Maine Green Independent Party and thrilled everyone. And when, a few years later, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Price, I lost track of her but was told by those who knew her that she received her fame with poise and humor, threw herself into the often dangerous pit of Kenya politics, and continued to speak out and act for the land, the trees, and for justice. She is sorely missed."
• Dr. Wangari Maathai, 1992: “We have come a long way from ignorance to deep insight, from fear to courage and from the streets to Parliament. We moved from self to others, from 'my issue' to 'our issues', from home to communities, from national level to global. Now we embrace the concepts of our common home and future." ("Wangari Maathai’s quotable quotes," Agence France Presse, September 26, 2011, http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2011/09/26/wangari-maathai%E2%80%99s-quotable-quotes)
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