Kent State Marks 45th Annual May 4 Commemoration
Kent State University holds its 45th annual commemoration of May 4, 1970, with events taking place April 30-May 4. The annual commemoration, hosted by the May 4 Task Force, provides an opportunity for the university community to gather and remember those who were lost and injured during the tragedy and also reflect on what May 4 means today.
The May 4 Task Force, a student organization on campus, will host a series of workshops, panel discussions, musical performances, a documentary screening, and a keynote presentation by Dick Gregory, an influential comedian, civil rights activist, and author. Kent State President Beverly Warren also will speak at the commemoration on May 4.
The May 4 Visitors Center will host a special showing of “Dick Cavett’s Vietnam” at 7:30 p.m. on April 30 in the Schwartz Center, Room 177. Following the movie, a discussion will be led by documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld and Timothy Naftali, the head of Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University and former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
The May 4 Task Force will host musical performances by Sue Jeffers, Carlos Jones and Barry B. at the Stone Tavern in downtown Kent (for ages 21 and over) on May 1 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
On May 2, the May 4 Task Force will host hourlong workshops in the Kent Student Center in Rooms 309 and 318 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., on topics of conflict resolution, the Muslim Student Association, women’s activism, and Black United Students, respectively. At 4 p.m., an intergenerational panel discussion with members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the May 4 Task Force will be held at the Kent Student Center, Room 309.
The May 4 Task Force will host a documentary screening with an introduction from Elizabeth Winters of Hanover College at 1 p.m., followed by an eyewitness panel with writer Lois Van Buren at 2 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Kiva.
At 4 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Kiva, there will be a panel discussion titled “A Response to ‘Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties,’ a Book by Tom Grace.” The panelists include Grace, author of the book “Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties”; Ken Bindas, Kent State professor and chair of the Department of History; Barbara Brock, former member of Kent Committee to End the War in Vietnam; Ken Hammond, professor at New Mexico State University; and Greg Wilson, professor at the University of Akron. The panel will be moderated by Laura Davis, Professor Emerita of English and founding director of the May 4 Visitors Center.
A war veterans’ panel, with an introduction from Iraq War Veteran Paul Chappell of the Nuclear Peace Foundation, is scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Kiva.
The annual candlelight vigil march is planned for 11 p.m. on May 3. The march will begin at the Victory Bell and will continue around campus, concluding at the Prentice Hall parking lot, where lighted markers indicate where the four victims – Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder – were killed. The candle bearers will then start the vigil that will continue throughout the night until the commemoration begins at noon on Monday.
The 45th Commemoration starts at noon on May 4 at the Kent State Commons and will include a keynote presentation by Dick Gregory, an influential comedian, civil rights activist and author. Kent State President Beverly Warren, Paul Chappell and Ken Hammond, Ph.D., professor of history at New Mexico State University (and Students for a Democratic Society leader at Kent State from 1967-70) also will speak at the commemoration.
“May 4th is an event which carries with it not only tragedy and pain but also an undeniable legacy of persistence, struggles for justice and student activism,” said Ashley Manning, Kent State junior English major and president of the May 4 Task Force, who got involved after attending the 43rd commemoration during her freshmen year. “This is a legacy which we have worked to keep alive all these years by planning the annual commemorations and which, this year, is reflected in our program theme ‘The Persistence of Memory.’
“What is particularly noteworthy of the Task Force is that it is a student-led organization and that even 45 years later, students still keep that memory alive for past, present and future generations,” Manning added. “I think this really shows just what an impact these events have had, not only for the Kent community, but also on a national and global scale, and is a testament to the power left behind by the students who were demonstrating and/or killed on May 4, 1970.”
During the commemoration weekend, the May 4 Visitors Center will have extended hours. The center will be open on Friday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, May 3, from 2 to 7 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.; and Monday, May 4, from 8 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m.
For more information about events commemorating May 4, visit the May 4 Task Force Facebook page or contact Manning, president of the May 4 Task Force, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Idris “Kabir” Syed, faculty advisor of the May 4 Task Force, at email@example.com.
For more information about Kent State’s May 4 Visitors Center, visit www.kent.edu/may4.
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A relative of Allison Krause looks to the sky while standing in silent vigil on the location in the Taylor Hall parking lot, on the campus of Kent State University, where Krause and three others were killed during the May 4, 1970, shootings by Ohio National Guardsmen.