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Pete Seeger Remembered As Advocate For Hudson River

Posted on 02 February 2014 by Editor

PeteSeegerClearwater

Pete Seeger on the Sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River.

While the Lower Hudson Valley celebrated sports and sponsorships this past week as the Superbowl wound its way to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, many others honored the passing of Pete Seeger.

After close to a century of traveling his songs around the world, Seeger, 94, died in his sleep Monday night at New York Presbyterian Hospital, surrounded by family. Celebrated as much for his social activism as his folk tunes and way of life, Seeger was an iconic figure who gained popularity with the Weevers in the 1950s and delivered the Civil Rights Movement its theme song with We Shall Overcome. Much like a folksy everyman, Seeger took part in many of America’s historical issues in the latter half of the 20th century: he jawed with the House of House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955 that got him banned from television for more than 10 years, spread the message of blues, folk and indigenous music across the globe, was the master of ceremonies at the Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan went all electric, protested the Vietnam War and nuclear power plants, and, closer to home, advocated for the Hudson River.

On June 30, 2008, Pete came on board the Clearwater to give us a spirited set of songs before a sail by the Hudson River Watershed Alliance. Happy Sailing to Pete – he was the best of us all. — Geoff Welch, Ramapo River Watershed Keeper

Pete Seeger looking out on the Hudson River / Change.org

Pete Seeger looking out on the Hudson River / Change.org

In Rockland County, Seeger’s work on behalf of his beloved Hudson River is one of the accomplishments he’ll be remembered and thanked for — his persistent advocacy to clean up the river eventually turned attention to the ravaged river, prompting action. As early as 1966, Seeger founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater organization in his home base of Beacon, NY. The group’s effort to educate and advocate on behalf of the surrounding wetlands and waterways was instrumental in helping to galvanize the eventual cleanup of the river.

Greenburgh, NY Town Supervisor Paul Feiner has started an initiative to consider naming the new Tappan Zee Bridge in honor of Seeger. The Town of Greenburgh is in western Westchestester County just across the Hudson from Rockland.

View of the Hudson River from the Sloop Clearwater / Geoff Welch

View of the Hudson River from the Sloop Clearwater / Geoff Welch

“When one thinks of the Hudson River and the environment one of the first names we think of is Pete Seeger,” said Supervisor Feiner. “Pete Seeger was a leader in environmental causes. He was the founder of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater which helped encourage environmental activism and the waterway’s rebirth. If the Tappan Zee bridge is named for Pete Seeger we will honor a man who led the fight for a cleaner river.”

NY State Senator David Carlucci, D-New City, said, “Pete Seger was a champion of the Hudson Valley, folk music, the environment, progressive politics and so much more. We are all lucky to have had him in our lives. He left the world and the Hudson Valley a better place than he found it.”

A petition movement is underway as well to consider naming the new bridge, currently under construction, after Seeger. The bridge is expected to open in 2018 and span from Rockland County to Westchester County.

Seeger himself was asked about the possibility of having the Tappan Zee bridge named after him, according to his grandson Katima Cahill-Jackson.

“For everyone who says Pete would hate the idea of naming a bridge after him, I think I should provide insight into Grandpa’s thought process,” said Katima Cahill-Jackson, in an email circulated from Susan Shapiro, onetime board member of Hudson River Clearwater and co-founder of Goshen Green Farm.

“There are lots of great people to name things after, why me?” answered Pete Seeger.

Kitama: Because if they name it after you then people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds will be reminded every day that they need to continue fighting for a better world as they sit in traffic.

Pete: Well I do love bridges. I have spent the past sixty years looking at two bridges right from my porch. Bridges are essential, built by geniuses. Also the Tappan Zee goes right to Nyack. That is the only time when I lived with both of my parents, and it was only two years.

 Kitama: But some people say you would hate it.

Pete: Hate it? I hate injustice! I hate dishonesty! I hate greed! Those are things worth hating.  

 

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. John w Says:

    I know the Clearwater was at one of the protests of the shorem nuke plant on long island, I was there also. In my 10 foot sail boat harassing the plant from the North side long island sound..helped protesters go over the fence ,,did you get any pictures..

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