Memorials of May 4

  • Candlelight Walk and Vigil

    Candlelight Walk and Vigil

    Each year since 1971, students, faculty and others gather at 11 pm on May 3 to take part in a candlelight procession around the perimeter of the Kent Campus. Following the walk, a vigil begins with people positioned on the spots where the four students were killed. The vigil continues until 12:23 pm on May 4, the time of the confrontation between the students and the Ohio National Guard.

    The candlelight walk and vigil were established by Jerry Lewis, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, with the help of students. In 1975, the Kent State University administration stopped sponsoring and supporting the annual commemoration program.

    In October 1975, the May 4th Task Force (M4TF) was founded by Kent State students and victims of the May 4 shootings to raise awareness, continue the search for truth and ensure the lessons to be learned from the tragedy would be part of a continuous and living history. In the years since, the M4TF student organization planned events for commemorations and conducted the annual candlelight walk and vigil.

    On March 6, 2019, Kent State’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution that committed the university to assume responsibility for the annual May 4 commemoration and ongoing educational events through the Office of the President, beginning with the 50th commemoration in 2019-2020 and continuing from that time forward.

    Today, the M4TF student organization continues to be dedicated to the memory of the events of May 4, 1970 and the values of peace, justice and truth.

  • Center for Peaceful Change

    Center for Peaceful Change

    The Center for Peaceful Change was established in 1971 as a living memorial to the students killed on May 4, 1970. Initially, the center, directed by Raghbir Basi, PhD, was an independent unit in North Hall that housed the university’s peace studies program (or integrative change, as it was known then) with a focus on interdisciplinary study, research and public service to promote peaceful mechanisms of change.

    In fall 1973, the center instituted a Living/Learning Community located on the basement floor of Stopher Hall. Focused on learning from experience, the center’s May 4 committee sponsored the annual candlelight vigil, as well as other May 4 activities, for the first few years. In 1994, the name of the center was changed to the Center for Applied Conflict Management, under the direction of Patrick Coy, PhD, with a continued emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and applied skills. In 2017, it was transformed into the School of Peace and Conflict Studies, and housed in McGilvrey Hall.

    Today, under the leadership of inaugural director Neil Cooper, PhD, the school builds upon the legacy of its predecessors, regularly enrolling more than 1,000 students each year in courses that teach applied skills in conflict management and nonviolent change.

    This year, through private donor support, four endowed scholarships were created through the KSU Foundation—named for each of the four slain students—that will be awarded to students in the new School of Peace and Conflict Studies.

  • B’nai B’rith Hillel Marker

    B’nai B’rith Hillel Marker

    On the first anniversary of May 4, a small group stood in prayer and dedicated a cast aluminum plaque to the memory of Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder, three of whom were Jewish. This marker, which had been financed by and cast under the direction of B’nai B’rith Hillel, lay unanchored at the foot of a tree in the parking lot adjacent to Prentice Hall until it disappeared on the evening of May 3, 1974.

    In 1975, a faculty committee collected contributions for a new granite marker, which was dedicated on May 3, 1975. This was damaged and replaced by a third marker, again of pink granite. The two-foot-high stone serves as one focal point of May 4 memorial observances on the Kent Campus. Every year on the evening of May 3, it marks the end of the candlelight procession that starts at the Victory Bell and ends at this marker, where participants leave the remains of their candles in remembrance.

  • Solar Totem #1

    Solar Totem #1

    Pierced by a bullet during the shootings on May 4, 1970, this 15-foot sculpture across from Taylor Hall, created by Akron-based artist Don Drumm, BFA ’56, MA ’65, has become an enduring memorial to the tragic event.

    The university had asked Drumm to create the abstract sculpture in 1967, as part of a project funded through a grant from the National Defense Education Act. When he designed the piece, Drumm’s plan was for the artwork to change with the movement of the sun—its many CorTen steel plates throwing shadows as the sun traveled across the sky.

    It has become an ever-changing work of art, but not as Drumm intended. Every spring, the bullet-scarred sculpture is adorned with daffodils from Blanket Hill, occasionally embellished with candle wax from prayer vigils and often marked in chalk with notes calling for remembrance and peace. Drumm approves of these additions to his artwork and has requested that the bullet hole, which he refers to as “a fingerprint of time,” always remains.

  • Victory Bell

    Victory Bell

    The Victory Bell, located on the Commons near Taylor Hall, was donated by The Erie Railroad. Originally rung for athletic triumphs, it was later used to call together political protests. After the events of May 4, 1970, it was removed from the Commons, but returned after strong student opposition. The bell is now rung during May 4 Memorial remembrances.

  • Pagoda

    Pagoda

    This umbrella-like structure made of concrete and steel was a project by Kent State architecture students and was completed shortly before the events of May 4, 1970. It has since become an icon of that day because it is featured in many historical photos of the event and was frequently mentioned in the subsequent investigation.

  • The Kent Four

    The Kent Four

    Alastair Granville-Jackson, an artist and former Kent State faculty member, created this sculpture in 1971 as a response and tribute to the four students who died on the Kent Campus on May 4, 1970. The red-orange sculpture is made of hollow metal tubes, referring back to rifle barrels and forward to trumpets of deliverance. In the artist’s original vision, the tubes were meant to shoot flames. The sculpture was recently restored and relocated from in front of Stopher Hall to its current location near the former Art Building.

  • May 4 Resource Room

    May 4 Resource Room

    The May 4 Resource Room—which contains books and articles about May 4, 1970, campus unrest during the Vietnam era and the US involvement in Southeast Asia—was dedicated in 1974 on the first floor of the library, adjacent to what is now the University Library Starbucks location.

    Victor Buehrle Jr., BS ’50, provided funding for the resource room, which is open to the public and serves as a reading room. Portraits of the four slain students and selected artwork related to May 4 are displayed in the room.

    The May 4th Task Force has used it as a regular meeting space, and students seek it out for a quiet space to read, study and reflect.

  • May 4 Memorial Windows

    May 4 Memorial Windows

    Four memorial windows to May 4, 1970 were created by Theodore Abel, BFA ’78, and presented to the university by the artist. They are a permanent feature of the May 4 Resource Room in the University Library.

  • May 4 Memorial

    May 4 Memorial

    Officially dedicated on May 4, 1990, as part of the 20th commemoration, the memorial’s environmental design was developed from a concept submitted by Chicago architect Bruno Ast to the university’s National Design Competition in 1986.

    The memorial, which overlooks the Commons on the Kent Campus, is constructed of carnelian granite, a stone associated with strength and time. As conceptualized by Brinsley Tyrrell, Emeritus Professor of Art, 58,175 daffodil bulbs planted on the hillside site symbolize the number of US losses in Vietnam.

    A wall, representative of both shelter and conflict, is built along the memorial entry and defines the plaza as a significant gathering area. The plaza ends in a jagged, abstract border symbolic of disruptions and the conflict of ideas. The words Inquire, Learn, Reflect engraved in the plaza’s stone threshold affirm the intent to provide visitors an opportunity to inquire into the many reasons and purposes of the events, to encourage a learning process, and to reflect on how differences may be resolved peacefully.

    A progression of four polished black granite disks embedded in the earth leads from the plaza to four free-standing pylons aligned on the hill. The disks reflect our own image as we stand on them. The pylons stand as mute sentinels to the force of violence and the memory of the four slain students. A fifth disk placed to the south acknowledges the many victims of the event and its wide impact. A plaque with the names of the four students killed on May 4, 1970 was added on the ground close to the memorial.

  • May 4 Memorial Honors Scholarships

    May 4 Memorial Honors Scholarships

    May 4 Memorial Honors Scholarships were established in 1990 to honor the four slain students, Allison Krause, William Schroeder, Sandra Scheuer and Jeffrey Miller. In 1998, the university scholarship awards were increased to include full in-state tuition, room and board. These scholarships are among the most prestigious awarded through the Honors College.

  • Prentice Hall Parking Lot Markers

    Prentice Hall Parking Lot Markers

    As a result of a request from the May 4th Task Force student organization, the university authorized the installation of markers locating the sites in the Prentice Hall parking lot where the four students were killed on May 4, 1970. The markers were dedicated on September 8, 1999, and participants stand vigil near them at each annual commemoration.

  • Ohio Historical Society Marker

    Ohio Historical Society Marker

    In 2006, Kent State received an Ohio Historical Society marker, one of 1,600 OHS markers in the state. The marker was installed on the May 4, 1970 Kent State Shootings Site.

  • May 4 Walking Tour Trail Markers

    May 4 Walking Tour Trail Markers

    A guided walking tour of the May 4, 1970 site was installed in 2010, in honor of the 40th anniversary. The walking tour includes interpretive panels installed at seven stops along the walk. The panels feature pictures, maps and written descriptions. Each trail marker focuses on different key aspects and events of May 4, 1970.

    A video documentary and audio complement the tour trail markers. A May 4 team wrote a script that was reviewed by 200 Kent State students, faculty and staff, as well as community members, scholars and consultants across the United States. Civil rights activist and NAACP Chairman emeritus Julian Bond narrates the tour for the documentary and audio.

  • May 4 Visitors Center

    May 4 Visitors Center

    Dedicated in 2012, the Kent State University May 4 Visitors Center, under the direction of Mindy Farmer, PhD, is a 1900-square-foot permanent museum exhibition located in Taylor Hall that relates the history of the shooting of 13 Kent State students by members of the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.

    Kent State scholars worked with humanities scholars, consultants, community leaders, veterans and students to determine the content, and national firms were hired to design the displays and create the multimedia components. The exhibition, comprised of three galleries, educates visitors by setting its account of the shootings in the context of the social and political climate of the 1960s. The displays show the breadth of the impact of the May 4 shootings and offer visitors opportunities to reflect on its meaning for today.

    As visitors exit the center onto the historical site and memorial for reflection, they are issued a call to action through the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    Average attendance at the center is just over 15,000 per year, and about 200 classes per year use the center for instruction and lessons relating to the May 4 legacy.

  • National Historic Landmark Designation

    National Historic Landmark Designation

    Over the years, teams from Kent State worked tirelessly to submit nominations that would enable the May 4, 1970 Shootings Site to receive national recognition. In 2010, the US Department of the Interior listed a roughly 17-acre portion of the May 4, 1970 Kent State Shootings Site on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2016, US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell designated the May 4, 1970 Kent State Shootings Site as a National Historic Landmark, and it joined more than 2,500 historic places that bear the national distinction. In 2018, Kent State unveiled the National Historic Landmark plaque. The plaques were installed inside the Visitors Center and outside on two corners of Taylor Hall.

  • Markers for the Nine Wounded Students

    Markers for the Nine Wounded Students

    Permanent bronze markers will be installed at each location in the ground and Prentice Hall parking lot where the nine students were wounded on May 4, 1970. The markers will bear the name of each student wounded, along with their distance from the Ohio National Guard when the shots were fired. Due to the cancellation of the 50th commemoration weekend, the dedication ceremony will be held at a date to be determined. Photo of the nine wounded with three  mothers of the four slain and President Carol Cartwright on May 4, 2000, courtesy Kent May 4 Center.

  • On Memorializing

    On Memorializing

    When you look around the Kent Campus, you see numerous physical and living memorials to the May 4, 1970 shootings that encourage public mourning, memory and reckoning.

    However, the process of memorializing this pivotal event in Kent State’s history— and our nation’s—has not been easy, says Tammy Clewell, PhD, professor of English at the Kent Campus. “We are on the verge of forgetting just how much resistance there was to the act of memorialization.”

    Clewell, who came to Kent State in 2000, was already engaged in research about mourning and memorializing practices as reflected in early 20th century British and American literary works. She became interested in the long history of the university’s efforts to memorialize the events of May 4, 1970, especially around the May 4 Memorial, which was dedicated in 1990.

    “When I discovered there was a lot of controversy surrounding the process of building the memorial, I decided to begin my research on it,” says Clewell, who presented her research at Commemorating Violent Conflicts and Building Sustainable Peace, an international conference cohosted by Kent State’s School of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center on October 26, 2019.

    In her presentation she concluded, “If memorial making comforted some but not everyone and if it did not resolve all disputes within a diverse community, it still had the value of creating a process where opposing voices were heard and differing viewpoints scrutinized.”

    Invited to put together a panel on the topic for the now-cancelled commemoration weekend, she is creating an exhibit, in collaboration with Mindy Farmer, PhD, director, and Lori Boes, assistant director, of the May 4 Visitors Center, planned for fall 2020.

    “You have to fight for contentious memory,” Clewell says. “And we have a lot of people to thank for doing that.”

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