Wangari Maathai, Second Black Female Noble Laureate Passes
Well, I'm trying to share the message that we need to take care of the planet through talk. I also have the action of planting trees, protecting the soils and forests. I combine the message with action. - Wangari Muta Maathai
By: Jeff Gill - Monday, Sep 26, 2011 - 09:06:25 AM
NAIROBI, Kenya - Wangari Muta Maathai, the first African woman, and second black woman who has been a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, died after suffering with cancer. Maathai was 71 years old.
The Nobel Peace Prize 2004 was awarded to Wangari Maathai for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.
In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. She has mobilized poor women to plant some 30 million trees. During her 2004 acceptance speech, she said the inspiration for her life work came from her childhood experiences in rural Kenya, where she witnessed forests being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations, which destroyed biodiversity and the capacity of forests to conserve water.
"Therefore, the tree became a symbol for the democratic struggle in Kenya. Citizens were mobilized to challenge widespread abuses of power, corruption and environmental mismanagement," Maathai said.
Wangari Maathai had followed Toni Morrison who was the first black woman to become a Noble Laureate in 1993. The number of black person receiving Noble prize recognition in include high profile names such as Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, and Derek Walcott. 13 blacks currently hold the prestigious award.