May 4, 50th Commemoration

50th Commemoration of May 4

The annual May 4 Commemoration provides an opportunity for all to remember and honor the tragic events of May 4, 1970 that occurred on the Kent State University campus. It was on that day that members of the Ohio national guard opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam war killing four students and wounding nine others. The upcoming 50th May 4 commemoration in 2020 represents a significant and historic milestone not only for the university but for the country as well. Beginning in the fall of 2019 and continuing through May 4, 2020, Kent State University will honor the 50th commemoration with a year-long observance of educational programs and events in addition to the traditional commemoration activities. 

Statement of the May 4 50th Commemoration Advisory Committee On Its Decision To Include Jane Fonda in the Commemoration Program

We take to heart the painful feelings expressed by those for whom Fonda’s visit to Hanoi as a young activist in 1972 had a profound impact. We are equally moved by those who expressed their high regard for Fonda’s atonement after the incident and her life-long activism in support of human rights and civil rights.

As a diverse group of individuals who have confronted and learned from our own missteps and growth over the last 50 years, the Advisory Committee finds value in both views of the speaker’s contribution to a program that is emblematic of long-standing divisions in our country and the difficulty we have reconciling our differences.

The Committee began its work nearly two years ago on the premise that diverse viewpoints have their place in our history and in the wide range of Commemoration programs, activities and speakers that will be part of the weekend’s activities.

We remain mindful that Kent State occupies a special place among universities in America. We know first-hand the dire consequences of polarizing rhetoric and the positive outcomes that result when we work together to reconcile our differences through thoughtful reflection and productive discourse.

As the 50th Commemoration of May 4th approaches, we remain optimistic about the opportunity and responsibility we have to model for others the importance of reflecting on our past, learning from our mistakes and recognizing that tragedies borne of division have no place on a college campus or in a democracy.

  • The 50th Commemoration will feature a variety of distinguished speakers and performers including Jane Fonda, Laurence Tribe and Eric Foner

  • Commemoration weekend events will begin Friday afternoon (May 1) and continue through the end of the traditional noon commemoration on Monday, May 4, 2020 (including the annual candlelight walk and vigil).

  • Kent State University is proud to announce the 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert featuring Joe Walsh (with Barnstorm - Joe Vitale and Kenny Passarelli) and David Crosby (with his touring band). They will be joined by other acts to be announced soon.