Today, Petra Kelly would have turned 70 years old. And 25 years after her premature death, her outstanding and farsighted thought, combined with her unique language, is still an inspiration to deal with current global issues.
Petra Kelly was a German politician and activist. She was born in Günzburg, Bavaria, in 1947. Then she moved to USA, in the years of the struggle for civil rights and demonstrations, where she had been involved in the presidential campaign of Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. In 1970, she returned to Europe and in 1982 she was awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize by the Right Livelihood Foundation in Sweden. She cofounded, and later led to the Bundestag in 1983, the German Greens (the Grünen) – the so called “anti-party party”. In 1991 the Sunday Times of London placed her on the list of “1000 Makers of the Twentieth Century”.
She died in tragic circumstances in October 1992. Three months before her death, the Center for Global Nonviolence Planning Project (CGNK’s predecessor) published a selection of five speeches and four essays covering the period
from August 1987 to July 1991, under the title Nonviolence Speaks to Power.
Petra Kelly, unwilling to compromise and focused on a radical, border-crossing approach to politics, was a pioneer for ecology, human rights and nonviolent political thought. She helped give substance to Green politics, through her own concept of “ecopeace”, which combines ecology, pacifism, feminism and nonviolence. Even though she was inspired by certain movements and ideas, her holistic thought cannot be categorized.
A quarter of a century after her death, Italian political scientist Valentina Cavanna launches the book Petra Kelly. Ripensare l’ecopacifismo (just published in Italy by Interno4 Edizioni), that illuminates her thought, through the analysis of her life and works. This book, that will hopefully be made available in English and other languages, also contains an essay by Stephen Milder, Professor at Groningen University and author of several publications about environmentalism, green politics and grassroots activism (the last one is Greening Democracy: The Anti-Nuclear Movement and Political Environmentalism in West Germany and Beyond, 1968-1983, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017): the essay explores Petra Kelly’s vision to incorporate ideas from abroad into her own brand of activism, as well as her transnational role as international thinker.