Kent State Remembers May 4, 1970, With Annual Commemoration

The Power of Our Voices

On May 3-4, 2024, Kent State University will hold its annual commemoration honoring the memory of May 4, 1970, a tragic day when the Ohio National Guard fired on Kent State University students during an anti-war protest on campus, killing four students, wounding nine students, and sparking a turning point in American History. 

Through looking back, Kent State also looks ahead with awareness of the many ways in which the legacy of May 4 is evident in the university today and in what’s to come. 

“The Power of Our Voices” theme will continue to inspire this year’s May 4 commemoration. 

May 4 Commemoration

May 2

Civic Engagement for Peaceful Change: May 4th, Social Justice and Nonviolent Action
This was an all-day conference for K-12 educators, students, and Kent State University faculty and staff to help participants demonstrate knowledge about the critical history of student activism and organizing at Kent State, emphasizing the significance of May 4. 

May 3

Jerry M. Lewis May 4 Lecture Series 
At 11:30 a.m., Kent State held the Jerry M. Lewis May 4 Lecture Series. The lecture and luncheon took place in the Kent Student Center Ballroom and featured Chris Post, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Geography, who will present “Developing and Interpreting the Wounded Student Markers at Kent State.” 

Watch the luncheon

Voices of Democracy 
At 3 p.m. in the Schwebel Room, 3rd floor of the Kent Student Center, author and journalist Lawrence Roberts discussed his book “Mayday 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt on the Streets, and the Untold History of America’s Biggest Mass Arrest.” The book chronicles the events of Mayday 1971, when a multi-day Vietnam War protest in Washington, D.C., led to the largest mass arrest in the country's history. Following his presentation, he joined Kent State Students for a moderated Q&A. 

The Power of Our Voices: Remembering the Gwangju Uprising 
At 5 p.m., a panel discussion with the School of Peace and Conflict Studies faculty and a delegation of faculty from Chonnam National University will took place in the Schwebel Room, 3rd floor of the Kent Student Center. The panel discussed the Gwangju Uprising, also known as the May 18 Democratic Uprising, which occurred in 1980. It was led by Chonnam National University students protesting martial law. After clashes with the South Korean military, citizens joined, seizing government buildings and arming themselves against the national government. The government reported 165 deaths, but estimates suggest the toll ranged from 600 to over 2,000, with victims later memorialized in a national cemetery. 


Candlelight Walk and Vigil
The annual Candlelight Walk and Vigil began at 11 p.m. This cornerstone of the commemoration began in 1971. 

May 4

Watch the Commemoration

The campus community and visitors gathered at noon on May 4 at the Kent State Commons to commemorate the moment gunfire erupted 54 years ago. The commemoration included a performance by the Kent Chorale, remarks from university students and administrators, the ringing of the Victory Bell, and a moment of silence at 12:24 p.m.

The commemoration remembered those killed – Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder – and those wounded – Alan Canfora, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Dean Kahler, Joseph Lewis, Donald Mackenzie, James Russell, Robert Stamps and Douglas Wrentmore – on May 4, 1970.

At 4 p.m. in the Kiva, filmmakers screened the final cut of Fire in the Heartland, focusing on the genesis of student activism at Kent State, the growing anti-war movement, and the killing of student protesters on May 4, 1970. A special Q&A session with the director and members of the film followed the screening.

Additional May 4 Commemorative Programs and Events 

University departments, student organizations, and local arts entertainers will host various May 4 events and programs leading up to the commemoration on May 4:

  • The Kent Stage featured Harvest, The Ultimate Neil Young Tribute, at 7:30 p.m. on May 3, 2024, and Peter Yarrow and Mustard's Retreat on Saturday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m.