Kent State Remembers May 4, 1970, With 54th Commemoration

UPDATED 5/2/24: The locations of the May 3 events at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. have been updated to the Schwebel Room on the third floor of the Kent Student Center.

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 students during an anti-war protest on campus, killing four students, wounding nine others and sparking a turning point in American history.  

may 4 event logo

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 has continued to inspire this year’s May 4 Commemoration planning, said Roseann “Chic” Canfora, Ph.D., who received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Kent State.  

“Our plan is to continue amplifying the voices of Kent State students this year and to expand the engagement of the campus community in making May 4 relevant to students today,” she said. “Our May 4 Education Committee, under the leadership of Dr. Neil Cooper from the School of Peace and Conflict Studies, has put together a robust schedule of events this year.” 

The committee’s goal was not only to share the lessons of May 4 but also to inspire a new generation of civic engagement, she said.   

“The committee has strived over the last two years to further engage the arts community in the May 4 Commemoration and to expand our reach to include high school and international students and educators,” Canfora said. 

Canfora serves as professional-in-residence in Kent State’s School of Media and Journalism and works collaboratively with the Office of the President in planning the university’s May 4 Commemoration, as chair of May 4 Presidential Advisory Committee and the May 4 Commemoration Committee. 

This year’s commemoration events include: 

Thursday, May 2  

K-12 educators, students and Kent State faculty and staff will come together for the Civic Engagement for Peaceful Change: May 4, Social Justice and Nonviolent Action conference. The all-day conference will help participants demonstrate knowledge about the critical history of student activism and organizing at Kent State, emphasizing the significance of May 4. Registration is required.   

Friday, May 3 

At 11:30 a.m., Kent State will hold the Jerry M. Lewis May 4 Lecture Series. The lecture and luncheon will take place in the Kent Student Center Ballroom and will feature Chris Post, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Geography, who will present “Developing and Interpreting the Wounded Student Markers at Kent State.” This ticketed event is free and open to the public. Tickets will be available for download on April 3.  

At 3 p.m. in the Schwebel Room on the third floor of the Kent Student Center, author and journalist Lawrence Roberts will discuss 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 multiday Vietnam War protest in Washington, D.C., led to the largest mass arrest in the country’s history. Following his presentation, he will join Kent State students for a moderated Q&A. Tickets for this event, titled “Voices of Democracy,” will be available for download on April 3. 

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 take place in the Schwebel Room on the third floor of the Kent Student Center. The panel will discuss 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 more than 2,000, with victims later memorialized in a national cemetery. Tickets will be available for download on April 3. 


Members of the Kent State University community participate in the annual May 4 Candlelight Walk and Vigil.


The annual Candlelight Walk and Vigil will begin at 11 p.m. This cornerstone of the commemoration began in 1971. There will be food before the Candlelight Walk on the Kent State Commons and in the Prentice Hall parking lot, and there will be an online sign-up for the Candlelight Vigil.  

Saturday, May 4 

The campus community and visitors will gather at noon on the May 4 site at the Kent State Commons (rain location: Kent Student Center Ballroom) to commemorate the moment that gunfire erupted 54 years ago. The commemoration will include 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 remembers 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.  

Music on the Kent State Commons will precede the commemoration at 11 a.m.  

In addition to these university-sponsored programs, university departments, the May 4 Task Force and local artists and musicians will host related events and programs leading up to the commemoration on May 4. 

The May 4 Visitors Center will host a discussion by Derf Backderf, author and illustrator of the acclaimed graphic novel “Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio” at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, in Taylor Hall, Room 226. The May 4 Task Force will hold a screening of the film “Fire in the Heartland” from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, in the May 4 Visitors Center Reflections Gallery. The Kent Stage will also feature Harvest, The Ultimate Neil Young Tribute, at 7:30 p.m. on May 3. 

The May 4 Commemoration programs will be continually updated on the May 4 Events Calendar. 

Additional Commemoration Information 

For the latest information about the commemoration and events planned to honor and remember May 4, 1970, visit  

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Photo Captions:
May 4 Commemoration:
Kent State University community members and visitors gather on the Kent State Commons for the annual May 4 Commemoration to honor those who were killed and wounded on May 4, 1970. 

Annual Candlelight Walk and Vigil:
Members of the Kent State University community participate in the annual May 4 Candlelight Walk and Vigil. 

Media Contact:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595 

POSTED: Tuesday, April 2, 2024 03:56 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 2, 2024 12:11 PM
Kent State University