The Real Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Legacy She Left to the Students of Her Namesake School

By Wilson, Larry | Pasadena Star-News, April 9, 2018 | Go to article overview

The Real Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Legacy She Left to the Students of Her Namesake School


Wilson, Larry, Pasadena Star-News


My second thought — first thought, “More horror” — after hearing of the February school massacre in Florida was about the name of the school itself.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas — wasn’t she a wonderfully grizzled character out of a Carl Hiassen novel?

The Miami Herald’s Hiassen, who among the great newspaper columnists of our time is indisputably the funniest, is also the author of numerous fictions about Florida, hilarious and addictive, and in the end about the most profound issue facing his state: Rapacious developers who would destroy the wet-and-wild environment that makes our nation’s eccentric southeastern peninsula interesting in the first place.

Their robber-baron greed is certainly aided and abetted by a host of common crooks, grifters, post-hurricane roofing scammers, evil politicians, creepy cops and ordinary doofuses, characters out of a grand comic opera, some of whom reappear from book to book.

A little easy research shows that the real Marjory Stoneman Douglas, after whom the high school in Parkland is named, is not in fact a character out of a Hiassen novel. But she might as well have been.

When Marjory Stoneman Douglas died aged 108 in Coconut Grove, Miami in 1998, it was after an extraordinary career as a journalist, women’s suffrage advocate and conservationist. Precisely like the heroes and heroines of most Hiassen novels, she saw the salvation of her adopted state in the defense of the Everglades against efforts to “drain the swamp” for development. In fact, it was her 1947 book “The Everglades: River of Grass” that entirely changed the way the Everglades is seen, a wild river crucial to the survival of Florida instead of a scummy swamp. The book is now seen to be as important to the salvation of the state’s environment as Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was to the elimination of DDT.

Douglas was not a native. …

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