Kent State Remembers May 4, 1970, With Annual Commemoration

For the first time since 2019, Kent State University will remember May 4, 1970, with its return to an in-person, annual commemoration to honor the four students who were killed, the nine students who were wounded and the countless others whose lives were forever changed when the Ohio National Guard fired on Kent State students during an anti-war protest. 

Logo for May 4
More than a half-century later, Kent State remains dedicated to scholarship that seeks to prevent violence and promote democratic values, from public service to civil discourse. The annual commemoration builds on the lessons learned over the past 50 years to inspire new generations to continue their pursuits of freedom of expression and social activism.

“We expect a larger gathering than usual this year, as the pandemic prevented us from gathering for the 50th May 4 Commemoration that so many had planned for and looked forward to,” said Roseann “Chic” Canfora, Ph.D., an eyewitness and survivor of May 4, 1970. “Fortunately, our virtual commemorations the last two years enabled people from all over the world to commemorate with us, and we expect that element of planning to continue with livestreaming even as we return to an in-person commemoration this year.”

In her role as a Professional-in-Residence in Kent State’s School of Media and Journalism, Canfora works collaboratively with the Office of the President and the May 4 Presidential Advisory Committee in planning the university’s May 4 Commemoration and in developing May 4 initiatives for the future. Part of that responsibility includes chairing the May 4 Commemoration Committee this year.

“What makes planning for the commemoration so special each year is not only collaborating with people whose connection to May 4 spans more than 50 years, but also working with students today who are as committed as we are to remembering Kent State and Jackson State,” Canfora said.

This year’s commemoration will kick off on Sunday, May 1, with folk music and a film series, she said, to enable visitors to gather on campus, to connect with old friends and to learn about the many events being planned by the university and by student groups connected to May 4.

On Monday, May 2, the university will honor the faculty marshals of May 4, 1970, with a luncheon and special recognition at the inaugural Jerry M. Lewis May 4 Lecture Series. This lecture series was created to honor the legacy of Jerry M. Lewis, Ph.D., and to advance the scholarship of May 4, 1970, and the Vietnam War era. Proposals by Kent State faculty who would like to present a public lecture on these topics may be submitted to the lecture series website until April 4.  

Lewis taught at Kent State from 1966 until 2013, becoming Professor Emeritus in 1996. Serving as a faculty marshal in 1970, he witnessed the May 4 shootings firsthand and has since devoted time to researching, memorializing and lecturing on the events of May 4. 

Later in the evening of May 2, university and community members will gather to attend a special concert presented by Kent State’s School of Music titled “Stories of Peace, Protest and Reflection” at Severance Music Center in Cleveland.  

While the full program will be announced soon, several events already planned include the annual May 4 Candlelight Walk and Vigil on Tuesday, May 3 – a tradition that will be preceded this year by the dedication of engraved plaques installed in 2021 on the May 4 site to permanently mark where the nine wounded students were located when hit by gunfire.

On Wednesday, May 4, the campus community and visitors will gather at 12:24 p.m. on the May 4 site to commemorate the precise moment that gunfire erupted 52 years ago. 

The May 4 Commemoration Committee will soon announce its selection of a keynote speaker and other events as planning for the 52nd May 4 Commemoration continues. 

For the latest information about the commemoration and the events of May 4, 1970, visit www.kent.edu/may-4-1970

# # #

Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield, emansfie@kent.edu, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - 9:27am
UPDATED: Monday, April 11, 2022 - 2:40pm