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Who Was Marjory Stoneman Douglas?


This week a lot of people are hearing the name Marjory Stoneman Douglas. That's the name of the Parkland, Fla., high school where 17 kids and adults were killed on Wednesday. The school was named after a woman who many people in the state consider a hero. She played a big role in protecting the nearby Everglades from development. Here's how she framed that struggle in an interview with NPR back in 1981.


MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS: I'll tell you the whole thing is an enormous battle between man's intelligence and his stupidity. And I'm not at all sure that stupidity isn't going to win out in the long run.

MCEVERS: Stupidity eventually lost when it came to the wetlands Douglas fought for. Her efforts and those of her colleagues kept the Everglades National Park from being developed.


DOUGLAS: I didn't like the real estate people, and I didn't like developers. I don't like developers yet because they're all out just for making money, and that's not good enough.

MCEVERS: Douglas was born in Minnesota in 1890. She moved to Florida when she was 25. Her father gave her a job at his newspaper, the Miami Herald. Back then, many people considered the Everglades a worthless swamp. Douglas thought otherwise.


DOUGLAS: We have all these natural beauties and resources. Among all the states, there isn't another state like it. And our great problem is to keep them as they are in spite of the tremendous increase of population of people who don't necessarily understand the nature of Florida.

MCEVERS: Douglas published the book "The River Of Grass" in 1947. Its impact on the Everglades has been compared to that of Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" on pesticides. Douglas is quoted as saying she fought hard for the Everglades because, she said, it was a test. And if we pass it, we get to keep the planet. Marjory Stoneman Douglas died in 1998 at the age of 108. Today there are two Florida public schools named after her - the high school in Parkland and an elementary school in Miami-Dade County. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.