Virtual Events Promote Peace, Anti-Racism as Kent State Marks the Annual Commemoration of May 4, 1970

To honor and remember the events that occurred on May 4, 1970, virtual events and exhibits hosted by Kent State University students, faculty and staff are scheduled from April 30 through May 4. The virtual events include several powerful speakers and events that promote peace and anti-racism and educate future students about the legacy of May 4, 1970.  

View the full schedule of events on the May 4 Commemoration website.

The events commemorate the day when the Ohio National Guard fired on Kent State students during an anti-war protest, killing four students and wounding nine other students. Due to the global pandemic, the events will be virtual.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum will present a powerful speech on April 30 as part of the virtual events to mark the annual commemoration of May 4, 1970. (Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum will present a powerful speech at Solidarity Today for a Better Tomorrow at 5 p.m. Friday, April 30. This event is the public portion of PeaceJam Great Lakes Youth Summit, a virtual conference being held at Kent State. The summit is a student-led virtual conference focused on building peace during the pandemic.

Menchú Tum won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her struggle for social justice and ethnocultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.

She has been a member of PeaceJam since the organization’s inception in 1996, and she continues to advocate for the rights of children and women throughout the world. In her Nobel acceptance lecture, she described the meaning of her Nobel Peace Prize as a tribute to the Indian people who have been sacrificed and have disappeared because they aimed for a more dignified and a just life with fraternity and understanding among human beings.

The event is being hosted by Kent State’s School of Peace and Conflict Studies, the May 4 Visitors Center, the Student Leadership Center, Kent State PeaceJam and PeaceJam Great Lakes.

Kent State Students for a Democratic Society will host Socialism and the Black Freedom Movement, a discussion with Frank Chapman, a veteran of the Black Liberation Movement at 2 p.m. Monday, May 3. During the discussion, Chapman will discuss his life, history and the direction of today's struggle. Currently, Chapman is the field organizer and educational director of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR).

In 1961, Chapman was wrongfully convicted of murder and armed robbery and was sentenced to life plus 50 years in the Missouri State Prison. In 1973, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) took up Chapman’s case. Chapman was released in 1976 after 15 years of incarceration.

Chapman is the author of a new book, “Marxist-Leninist Perspectives on Black Liberation and Socialism.” The book is about the historic relationship between the struggle for Black liberation and the struggle for socialism in the United States.

Kent State University student Olivia Salter is co-chair of the May 4 Task Force, a student-led organization dedicated to the memory of May 4 and shedding light on the injustices that followed. (Photo provided by Olivia Salter)
The May 4 Task Force will hold a virtual presentation 4 p.m. Monday, May 3, followed by a question-and-answer discussion with Kent State students Ethan Lower and Olivia Salter, co-chairs of the task force, moderated by Neil Cooper, Ph.D., director of Kent State’s School of Peace and Conflict Studies. The May 4 Task Force is a student-led organization dedicated to the memory of May 4 and shedding light on the injustices that followed through educational events and activism.

The presentation, “Re-envisioning the May 4 Task Force for Future Generations,” will include research conducted by Lower and Salter, conducted under Uma Krishnan, Ph.D., Kent State professor of English.

“The goal of presenting this research is to lay out a clear-cut, data-driven and sustainable way for the task force to continue to exist,” said Salter, who is graduating in May. “We want to show people that we are dedicated to bringing the May 4 legacy to current and future students.”

On Tuesday, May 4, Kent State University at Trumbull will host a virtual discussion titled “It Starts With You! Promoting Peace and Civil Discourse in Our Lives.” 

"Hearing the Voice of the Other: Finding a Small Patch of Common Ground to Listen and Talk to Each Other” begins at 2 p.m. with moderator Daniel E. Palmer, Ph.D., interim dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State Trumbull. Forum panelists are N. J. Akbar, Ph.D., associate vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion at Kent State; Molly Merryman, Ph.D., director of Kent State’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality; Peter Byrne, Ph.D., associate professor of English from Kent State Trumbull; and Lauren Lemley, Ph.D., American Sign Language instructor from Kent State Trumbull.

The event continues at 4 p.m. with “Poems of Peace and Conflict Transformation: An Interactive Presentation” with David Hassler, director of Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center. The event will include an invitation to audience members to create poetry about peace.

For more information about May 4, 1970, visit

For more information about the virtual May 4 Commemoration events, visit

POSTED: Friday, April 30, 2021 - 1:08pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 30, 2021 - 1:30pm
April McClellan-Copeland