Kent State Dedicates May 4 Site as National Historic Landmark, Hosts Renowned Journalist Dan Rather During 48th Annual May 4 Commemoration
A portion of Kent State University’s Kent Campus has taken its place alongside the nation’s most significant historic locations, joining such sites as the Grand Canyon National Park, Pearl Harbor and the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
Those 17 acres represent the location of the historic events of May 4, 1970, where protesting students, observers and soldiers gathered on that fateful day when the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four students and wounded nine others.
In 2010, the May 4 site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is comprised of 90,000 locations associated with events that contributed significantly to U.S. history. Then in 2016, Kent State’s May 4 site joined a much more select group as it was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Only 2,500 historic places share this national distinction; the May 4 site is one of 76 such locations in Ohio.
As part of the 48th annual May 4 Commemoration, Kent State formally recognized and celebrated this National Historic Landmark designation during a special dedication ceremony at the Kent Student Center Kiva on Friday, May 4, at 3:30 p.m. The event was free and open to the public.
Former Ohio Gov. Richard “Dick” Celeste served as keynote speaker at the event. Kent State President Beverly J. Warren; Lawrence Pollock, chair of the Kent State University Board of Trustees; and Todd Diacon, Kent State’s executive vice president and provost, provided remarks at the ceremony.
The ceremony also featured the unveiling of a plaque to officially dedicate the site as a national landmark by President Warren, members of the Kent State Board of Trustees, the May 4 Task Force and the National Park Service.
Dan Rather to Provide Rare Insight Into Covering May 4, World Events
On May 4 at 7:30 p.m., renowned journalist Dan Rather will appear at Kent State’s Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (MAC Center) as part of the Presidential Speaker Series. His presentation is in collaboration with Kent State’s College of Communication and Information and coincides with annual May 4 Commemoration events and the dedication of the May 4 site as a National Historic Landmark. The former lead anchor of the CBS Evening News will reflect on his experiences as a journalist, news anchor and multimedia producer.
Presidential Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. However, a ticket is required for admission. Two tickets can be requested per email address.
A series of events have been organized by the May 4 Task Force and other campus organizations, the May 4 Visitors Center and the university. All of the events will be held on the university’s Kent Campus. The events are free and open to the public, however, prior registration is requested for the National Historic Landmark dedication and a ticket is required for admission to the Presidential Speaker Series featuring Dan Rather.
At 7 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Kiva, the May 4 Task Force hosted various authors discussing their books about May 4.
At 11 p.m., the candlelight walk and vigil began on the Kent State Commons. Organized by the May 4 Task Force, the march began at the Victory Bell and continued around campus, concluding at the Prentice Hall parking lot, where lighted markers indicated where the four victims – Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder – were killed. The candle bearers started the vigil that continued throughout the night until the commemoration began at noon on Friday.
From 10-11 a.m., Kent State’s May 4 Visitors Center and the Kent State University Bookstore presented a book-signing event with several authors who have written about May 4 in the bookstore, which is located in the Kent Student Center. This year’s participating authors were Laura Davis (This We Know and Democratic Narrative, History and Memory), Susan Erenrich (Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change), Sabrina Fedel (Leaving Kent State), Tom Grace (Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties), David Hassler (May 4th Voices) and Miriam Jackson (We Shall Not Be Moved).
At noon, the commemoration, organized by the May 4 Task Force, began at the Kent Student Center Ballroom and included a keynote speech by William C. Hine, Ph.D., retired history professor from South Carolina State University. Dr. Hine honored the students killed at the Orangeburg Massacre on the campus of South Carolina State, and he connected the past to the present. In addition to experiencing the Orangeburg Massacre, Dr. Hine was a postdoctoral history scholar at Kent State on May 4, 1970.
At 3:30 p.m. at the Kent Student Center Kiva, the university formally recognized and celebrated the May 4 site’s National Historic Landmark designation.
At 7:30 p.m. at the MAC Center, Kent State presents the Presidential Speaker Series featuring Dan Rather. The event is free and open to the public, however, a ticket is required for admission. Request tickets here.
May 4 Visitors Center Hours
The May 4 Visitors Center will be open during the week of Commemoration. Using images, artifacts and multimedia, the May 4 Visitors Center’s exhibits tell the story of the decade leading up to May 4, 1970, the events of that day, the aftermath and the historical impact. It is located in Taylor Hall.
Visitors to the May 4 Visitors Center can see its newest exhibition, Sandy’s Scrapbook. The exhibition is a special tribute to the life of Ms. Scheuer, who was shot and killed by Ohio National Guardsmen on May 4, while she was on her way to class. Sandy’s Scrapbook is based on the actual scrapbook that Ms. Scheuer kept while at Kent State. It features items and memories provided by her family and her sister, Audrey.
Sandy’s Scrapbook is the first in what the May 4 Visitors Center hopes will be a series of four exhibitions in tribute to the four lives lost on May 4, 1970. The purpose behind these exhibitions is to focus not just on the deaths of these students, but on the lives that they lived and the people who they were.
Hours for the May 4 Visitors Center will be:
- Monday, April 30: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Tuesday, May 1: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 2: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Thursday, May 3: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Friday, May 4: 9 a.m.-noon; 2:30-3:30 p.m.; and 4:30-5:30 p.m.
For more information about the May 4 Task Force, visit its Facebook page.