50th Commemoration of May 4, 1970

October 18, 2019

Dear Members of the Kent State University Community,

The yearlong 50th commemoration of the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State is well underway. Just a few of the many highlights thus far include historian and alumnus Thomas Grace’s stirring opening keynote speech on July 31, part of an educators summit for Ohio middle and high school teachers; the Sept. 19 launch of a memoir by nationally acclaimed photographer and alumnus Howard Ruffner, which tells the compelling story of May 4 as well as a generation; and “Commemorating Violent Conflicts and Building Sustainable Peace” on Oct. 24-26, the first of several global and national conferences hosted by or featuring Kent State this year. By the end of the spring semester, we will have held more than 100 events, speakers, programs and exhibits providing greater insight into the history of May 4, 1970, its meaning today and its lessons for the future.

If you have not done so already, I encourage you to visit the 50th commemoration website and to attend one of the many upcoming events. Please check back often for updates as we continue to release new events and information.

Landrieu to Headline May 4 Speaker Series
One powerful lesson that we have learned from May 4 is the danger of polarization and poisoned discourse. Much of the year’s programming focuses on this central theme, which is why I am excited to welcome Mitch Landrieu, one of the most powerful and leading voices about the danger of polarization and the impact of reconciliation.

Mr. Landrieu is the former mayor of New Orleans and a New York Times bestselling author. He gained national prominence for his powerful and historic decision to take down four Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu’s courage and leadership during turbulent times earned him the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

Mitch Landrieu will speak Tuesday, Nov. 19, as part of the university’s May 4 Speakers Series. Admission will be free, and details about the event and tickets will be announced next week.

50th Commemoration Weekend, May 1-4, 2020
Planning continues for the 50th Commemoration Weekend, details of which we will be announcing within the next few weeks. Weekend events will begin at noon, Friday, May 1, 2020, and continue through the end of the traditional noon commemoration ceremony on Monday, May 4, 2020. As you will see, the 50th Commemoration Weekend will include exciting and extraordinary featured speakers and panel discussions, exhibits and performances, and revered traditions, such as the candlelight walk and vigil.

I thank all of you who have contributed to this meaningful and sustained observance through your planning, execution and attendance. Collectively, we are demonstrating that the legacy of May 4, 1970, can help reduce the growing polarization in society and inspire new generations of students to become positive community voices who are civilly engaged and advocates for peaceful conflict resolution.

Todd Diacon