Making Meaning of May 4

Teaching about the Kent State Shootings

Educators, engage students with the facts of the Kent State shootings, May 4, 1970, and relation to movements today, including March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter.

The Kent State Shootings on May 4, 1970, have enduring national significance for

  • Broadening the base of public opinion and dissent against the Vietnam War 
  • Setting legal precedent through the U.S. Supreme Court that public officials can be brought to trial for their actions
  • Effecting prompt change in military policy for civil disturbances
  • Hastening passage of the Twenty-sixth Amendment to lower the voting age to 18
  • Causing the largest student protest and only national student strike in U.S. history
  • Achieving national prominence in 1977-78 as a site of student protest to preserve understanding of a watershed event in U.S. history
  • Standing as an emblem of the student movement of the 1960s and early 1970s
  • Residing on an arc in American history of government authorities confronting protesting citizens with unreasonable deadly force 
  • Reminding us all of the importance of practicing and preserving the First Amendment

Understand the past, shape the future. Be the change . . .



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Photo: Alan Canfora stands as the emblem of student activism against the Vietnam War in John Filo’s iconic May 4, 1970, photo.