The May 4, 1970 incident, now known as the massacre of the State of Kent, dramatically changed the nation.
This prompted a national student strike that forced hundreds of colleges and universities to close. Life magazine and Newsweek a cover story dedicated to that incident. The New York Times famously showing off a photo of a young woman who is now an icon who screams as she kneels over the body of a Kent State student.
The shooting changed the wave of public opinion towards the Vietnam War, and several political officials even argue that it was instrumental in the downfall of the Nixon administration. Today, the incident symbolizes the political and social divisions caused by the Vietnam War.
Kent State is commemorate the event with virtual programs that include candlelight flames, radio games, interactive applications that allow users to explore events surrounding shootings and video interviews with Kent State students.
The Monday program starts at noon ET.
The State of Kent Massacre
When Richard Nixon was elected president of the United States in 1968, it was partly because he had promised to end the war in Vietnam. So when he announced two years later that the US had invaded Cambodia, anti-war activists across the country immediately erupted in protest.
One such protest occurred on May 1, 1970 at the Kent State University campus in Kent, Ohio. Students speak out against war and bury copies of the Constitution to symbolize that Congress has not officially declared war, according to one article from the university.
Then at night, what began as peaceful protests on the streets of downtown Kent turned into violent confrontations between demonstrators and local police. The city mayor declared a state of emergency, and the large-scale police force that had been summoned finally used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Fearing further disruption, the mayor asked the governor of Ohio the next day to send the state’s national guard to Kent. The confrontation between guards and protesters continued on May 2 and May 3, with the ROTC building on campus finally burning to the ground. It is not clear who is responsible for the fire.
On May 4, students gathered again for another demonstration to demonstrate against the war and the presence of the Ohio National Guard on campus, despite attempts by university leaders to inform the campus that such meetings were prohibited. Around 3,000 people had gathered in the middle of campus at 11 a.m., according to the university.
Just before noon, the guards ordered the demonstrators to disperse. When the crowd refused to leave, the guards fired tear gas at the students and began following them directly. After several deadlocks, troops returned to the top of a steep hill, where they turned towards the demonstrators and fired into the crowd for 13 seconds.
Four students were killed, and nine others were injured. The university was immediately shut down, and millions of students on campuses across the country protested the incident.