Kent State University Course to Educate Community About May 4, 1970
Kent State University is offering a community course that deals with the historical, cultural, social and political contexts of events before, during and after the May 4, 1970, shootings.
The free course, Making Meaning of May 4: The Kent State Shootings in American History, will be held Oct. 16, 23 and 30 at the university’s May 4 Visitors Center.
The three-session course will be taught by Kent State Professor Emerita Laura Davis, Ph.D., a co-creator of the May 4 Visitors Center and May 4 Walking Tour, and Amoaba Gooden, Ph.D., chair of Kent State’s Department of Pan-African Studies.
The course is being offered by Kent State’s Office of Continuing and Distance Education.
Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., Kent State’s interim senior vice president and provost, requested that Davis and Gooden work together to lead the course, which is among about 100 scheduled events that are being held as the university observe’s the 50th commemoration of May 4.
Participants will have the opportunity to discuss how they view May 4 as an event in American history.
“One of the goals of the course is to continue to strengthen the relationship between the university and community around the topic of May 4,” Davis said. “It will give the community a sense of engagement and the opportunity to learn about the specifics of what happened. They will have a chance to ask questions and express their views on what they feel.”
The course content will include lectures, discussions and experiential-based learning, Davis said. Participants will receive a free copy of “This We Know: A Chronology of the Shootings at Kent State, May 1970.” The short book is a fact-based chronology of the shootings and is written by Davis, Carole A. Barbato, Ph.D., and Mark F. Seeman, Ph.D.
Each class will correspond or be linked to one of three galleries in Kent State’s May 4 Visitors Center.
- The first class will cover what happened on May 4, which corresponds with “This We Know” and gallery two of the visitors center.
- During the second class, participants will view a screening of the film “Fire in the Heartland,” which addresses events of the 1960s and corresponds with gallery one.
- In the final meeting, participants must become familiar with one of the oral histories that is part of the expansive material on May 4 because the course content covers the impact, aftermath and meaning of May 4 and is linked to gallery three.
Davis would like to hold the course again in the spring of 2020 and possibly beyond as a way to build community, understanding and respect while reflecting on the legacy of May 4.
“It’s important to educate as many people as possible and to expand the number of people who know the facts about what happened,” Davis said. “What happened on May 4 isn’t something you can guess at. You can’t just assume ‘oh well, people were shot so they must have been doing something to cause them to be shot.’ It’s logical and understandable that people would think that, but there was certainly more to it than that. The more people there are in the world who understand this historical event gives what happens a kind of social justice, and it also helps people be better citizens today.”
For more information and a calendar of events, visit the 50th Commemoration of May 4 website.