On May 4th, 1970, four students were killed and nine others wounded on the campus of Kent State University when the National Guard opened fire during student protest against the United States bombing of Cambodia at the time of the Vietnam War or the Second Indochina War. The demonstrations began three days earlier when several hundred activists gathered to rally on the grassy knoll known as the Commons. Unrest extended into the town of Kent with vandalism, looting, and threats to local merchants if they did not support the anti-war sentiment and activity. The situation escalated with tear gas, emergency orders, and the eventual deaths -- going down in history as one of the worst tragedies in the history of higher education and one of the most controversial ones; legal action ensued with charges brought against the "Kent 25" in connection of the burning of the ROTC building, while members of the National Guard were indicted.
The Kent State shootings, also known as the Kent State Massacre led to significant strikes in universities, colleges, and high schools throughout the nation, raising conscience about the role of the United States during the the war with Vietnam and use of military draft. Just ten days after the May 4th killings, Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi experienced a similar tragedy with two shootings and another twelve students wounded.
The conflict with Vietnam that lasted from November 1, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, and involved Cambodia and Lao. More than 58,000 U.S. servicemen died, and over 1600 went missing in action.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Nelson, J. (1970, May 10). Kent State: The Lessons Of Were Ignored: Kent State: Lessons Of Orangeburg Were Ignored. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995)
- Silent Majority's Youth Rises At Kent State. (1970, Jun 02). The Hartford Courant (1923-1994)
- Mueller, C. S. (1971, May 03). Report From Kent State: Part One. Newsday (1940-1991)
- Wicker, T. W. (1971, Jun 06). Kent State: What Happened and Why. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Lippman, A. (1975, May 04). Some Remember How It Was At Kent State, But For Today's Students It's Almost History. Boston Globe (1960-1988)
- Rice, J. (1977, Jul 13). New Confrontation Different At Kent State: 1970-1977: This One Ends Peacefully. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File)
- Abrams, A. (1979, Jan 15). Legacy of Lessons From Kent State. Newsday (1940-1991)
- Reiff, R. (1980, May 04). Kent State--10 Years Later: The Survivors--Their Lives Today. Chicago Tribune (1963-1996)
- Parker, J. (1981, Feb 05). The Drama of a Tragedy: Kent State Re-enacts the Campus Killings That Shocked the Nation. Newsday (1940-1991)
- Ken Fireman Newsday, S. C. (1990, May 03). Kent State, 20 Years After: Those Touched By Fatal Protest Seek Ways To Put It Behind Them. Newsday (1940-1991)
- Henderson, R. (1990, May 04). Four Dead In Ohio: Memories Haunt Local Witnesses Of the Kent State Massacre. The Sun (1837-1994)
- Chronology of Events, May 1 - 4, 1970. Special Collections and Archives, Kent State University.
- From the Classroom to the Street: 50 Years of School-Based Activism, April 2018 Staff Picks, by Jasmine Sykes Kunk and Anika Paris
- Hensley, Thomas R. and Jerry M. Lewis. Kent State and May 4th: A Social Science Perspective. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2015. e-book
- Simpson, Craig S. Above the Shots: An Oral History of the Kent State Shootings. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2016. e-book
- Today in History: Students Protest at Kent State, published May 2, 2019, on Learning at the Library
- Map of Shootings at Kent State University in 1970, Wikimedia Commons
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries
Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check additional Cafe News postings on the library blog.