Events Signify Historical Importance of May 4

As part of the university’s activities marking the 40th commemoration of the May 4, 1970, shootings, Kent State University held a dedication ceremony for the historic May 4 site’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places and the opening of the new May 4 Walking Tour, and hosted U.S. Congressman John Lewis for its 2010 Democracy Speaker Program.

Ribbon Cutting May 4The National Register of Historic Places and the May 4 Walking Tour were two examples of how the university marked the events of May 4 in an educational way. "I think we’ve learned a great deal from May 4. We’ve gone beyond May 4, and what we are going to do is respect what happened in the past and try and put it in a historical context so that people recognize that our democracy grew stronger because of what happened on May 4 at Kent State," Lefton said.

Following a short program, attendees moved outside to the historic site for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new May 4 Walking Tour. In addition to the seven markers, the National Register of Historic Places plaque was displayed. Guests were invited to take one of two tours of the historic site after the ribbon cutting.

The day concluded with U.S. Congressman John Lewis' speech titled "Coming Full Circle: Democracy, Engagement and Social Change." A member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District, Lewis has been called "one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced." He has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls "The Beloved Community" in America. Recently, he was seen on the news and pictured on the front page of newspapers for accompanying Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi to the U.S. Capitol for the health care reform vote.

May 4 CommemorationAt a young age, Lewis was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.

About the May 4 Walking Tour

The guided walking tour includes interpretive panels installed at seven stops along the walk on the historic site. The panels feature pictures, maps and written descriptions. Each trail marker focuses on different key aspects and events from May 4, 1970. A video documentary and audio complement the tour trail markers. Notable civil rights activist and NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond narrates the tour for the documentary and audio. The documentary will be demonstrated on handheld mobile devices on May 1-4. Information about these special tours will be posted at Visitors can listen to the audio narration at any time by calling 330-672-MAY4 (6294) via phone.

The walking tour is part of the Kent State May 4 Visitors Center, which will be located in Taylor Hall. Visitors may view the draft design in Room 101 of Taylor Hall from May 1-4 and follow progress at Fundraising for the Kent State May 4 Visitors Center is currently underway.

About the National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation, added the May 4, 1970, site at Kent State to its list on Feb. 23, 2010. Patrick Andrus, the reviewer with the National Register of Historical Places, commented that for a site less than 50 years old to be listed acknowledges the exceptional importance of the site at Kent State.

The May 4 site covers 17.4 acres of the Kent State campus, comprising the Commons, Blanket Hill, the Prentice Hall parking lot and the Practice Field. The site is an area where the Ohio National Guard, student protesters and an active audience of observers and/or sympathizers ebbed and flowed across a central portion of the campus, beginning at approximately 11 a.m. and ending at approximately 1:30 p.m., May 4, 1970.

For more information on the 40th commemoration of May 4 at Kent State, visit the May 4 Newsroom at Information about Kent State and the 40th May 4 commemoration are also available at

Photo Captions:

Top: Alan Canfora, one of nine students wounded on May 4, 1970, touches the plaque following the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the National Register of Historic Places dedication and May 4 Walking Tour.

Bottom: A visitor to one of the events commemorating the May 4, 1970, shootings cries on the hillside by Taylor Hall  during remarks by the mother of William Schroeder.