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May 4 Museum Opens Oct. 20 at Kent State

Newly remodeled visitor's center at Taylor Hall to open Homecoming weekend

Kent State University will officially open its much-anticipated May 4 Visitors Center on Saturday, Oct. 20, as part of the university’s Homecoming celebration. The public is invited to experience the center’s dramatic exhibits at an open house from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Visitors to the open house will receive a special May 4 commemorative gift, while supplies last.

On May 4, 1970, Kent State was placed in an international spotlight after a student protest against the Vietnam War and the presence of the Ohio National Guard on campus ended in tragedy. Thirteen seconds of rifle fire by 28 Ohio National Guardsmen left four students dead, one permanently paralyzed and eight others wounded.

Using images, artifacts and multimedia, the center’s exhibits tell the story of the decade leading up to May 4, 1970, the events of that day, the aftermath and the historical impact.

“May 4 was a historic event for our university, the nation and the world,” said Kent State President Lester A. Lefton. “The May 4 Visitors Center provides an opportunity for members of our community and beyond to better understand the events of that day set against the political and cultural changes of the times in which they took place.”

Laura Davis, director of the May 4 Visitors Center and a Kent State freshman in 1970 who witnessed the shootings, said, “Historians cite the Kent State shootings as a watershed moment in U.S. history and an important turning point in the consciousness of Americans about the Vietnam War.

“The May 4 Visitors Center offers a powerful and immersive experience that provides context and perspective on the tragedy, and examines the lasting impact that still resonates today,” Davis added. “From the perspective of more than 40 years, the visitors center experience remembers the students who lost their lives on May 4 – Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder – while offering meaning for today in their loss.

Over the past five years, scholars from Kent State worked with humanities scholars, consultants, community leaders, veterans and students to determine the exhibit content. Members of the public and campus, local historians and community leaders contributed ideas through public forums and focus groups. Kent State professors and national experts examined proposed content to ensure accuracy and balanced viewpoints. Reviewers for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ohio Humanities Council, the Ohio Preservation Office and the Department of the Interior provided input and feedback.

The cost for the design and construction of the center was $1.1 million. Funding included contributions from the public, veterans groups, a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities and $667,000 from all 16 deans from every Kent State campus and college, an expression of the university’s national leadership role in promoting nonviolence and democratic values.

“The deans invested in the educational mission of the May 4 Visitors Center, both to recognize the historical importance of May 4th and its value to citizens today,” said Todd Diacon, Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The visitors center offers an opportunity to reflect on significant issues necessary to sustaining a democratic society. The support provided by the campuses and colleges demonstrate their commitment to help students and communities learn from the past to shape a better future.”

The design firm Gallagher and Associates, based in Silver Spring, Md., whose past projects include the Gettysburg National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center and the Museum at Bethel Woods (Woodstock), worked with the Kent State team to design the center’s displays. Exhibits were constructed by Exhibit Concepts, Inc. of Dayton, Ohio. Media production was handled by GTOO Media of Silver Spring, Md., whose work has been featured in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

On Feb. 23, 2010, the National Register of Historic Places of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation.

Visitors to Kent State can walk the steps of that history on the May 4 Walking Tour, which was dedicated on May 4, 2010, for the 40th commemoration. The tour features historic site trail markers and a documentary narrated by civil rights activist Julian Bond.

The May 4 Visitors Center is located in room 101 of Taylor Hall at 300 Midway Drive on the Kent State campus. For 2012, beginning on Oct. 22, the center will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday. Admission is free. The center also will be open by appointment for group tours. Call 330-672-4660 or email may4@kent.edu for more information.

The opening of the May 4 Visitors Center is part of a yearlong series of events designed to educate, inform and help people reflect on the legacy and impact of the 1970 tragedy. A formal dedication of the center will take place in 2013 as part of the university’s annual May 4 commemoration activities.

For more information about the Kent State University May 4 Visitors Center, visit www.kent.edu/may4.

Traci Monroe October 11, 2012 at 12:21 PM
As usual no mention of the events that brought the National Guard in the first place, the riots and looting of downtown, the burning of buildings, the cutting of fire hoses and assaulting of firemen trying to put out the fires. No mention of that.
Robin L. Anderson October 11, 2012 at 01:48 PM
...or how ill-prepared/trained/equipped the National Guard troops were to perform a "riot control" mission, given the fact that no order of "martial law" had been issued, eh?
Tiffany Jones October 11, 2012 at 02:26 PM
@Traci's comment: This type of inaccurate commentary and bias shows why there is a need for an informative welcome center! The photo's obviously show whole areas devoted to the events prior to May 4th and what led up to the event. The chronology read at EVERY commemoration also tells of events during the days (and nights) prior. so for you to state "as usual" and "not mention" is misleading at best and down right untrue.
Traci Monroe October 11, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I went to the website and searched through the information presented there, no mention of the riots that took place downtown prior to the National Guard being called in, also no mention of the burning of the ROTC building.
Traci Monroe October 11, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I believe they were very well prepared/trained/equipped, unfortunately they were also very tired having just come off duty at a teamsters strike, mistakes were made but I am sick and tired of all the blame being put on the National Guard. The National Guard would not have been called in, if the protests were peaceful, if the rioting downtown and the burning of the ROTC building hadn't happened.
Tiffany Jones October 11, 2012 at 05:36 PM
http://www.kent.edu/about/history/May4/lewihen.cfm "Friday evening in downtown Kent began peacefully with the usual socializing in the bars, but events quickly escalated into a violent confrontation between protestors and local police........." and it goes on. http://dept.kent.edu/may4/chrono.html "Then they surrounded the ROTC building, an old wooden World War II barracks that was scheduled to be demolished. Windows were broken and a few persons eventually set the building on fire......." and it goes on http://www.may4.org/information/kent-state-1970-description-of-events-may-1-through-may-4.html "A dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on the city of Kent, and students were restricted to the campus. At 5 p.m., shortly after assessing the situation, Mayor Satrom alerted the Ohio National Guard. KSU officials were unaware of this decision.... " and it goes on.. Not sure what site you were on.
Tiffany Jones October 11, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I think there is blame to be had (and that blame doesn't rest solely, or even primarily, on the Guardsmen) but I don't think that is what this article or the visitors center aims to address.
Traci Monroe October 11, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I stand corrected, there is some mention of the events, in the chronology, however they seem to gloss it over as no big deal. There was more to Friday night downtown than just a "few" broken windows. There was also more than just a "few cut hoses" preventing the firemen from putting out the fire at the ROTC building.
Tiffany Jones October 11, 2012 at 05:49 PM
"About $5000 in damage was done as 43 windows were broken--28 in one bank" "Firemen arrived on the scene but their actions were abandoned because some of the crowd attacked the firemen and slashed their hoses. The blaze quickly died out. The firemen eventually regained control and the fire died out. The building was ignited again. This time, however, firemen arrived with massive police protection. Police surrounded the building and dispersed the students with tear gas. The firemen again got the fire under control." http://www.may4.org/information/kent-state-1970-description-of-events-may-1-through-may-4.html
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! October 11, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Please visit the memorial on the day it opens and retract your comment.
Traci Monroe October 12, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Tiffany, look at the people involved in may4.org, a little one sided. The information on the site is a biased interpretation of the events and takes generous liberty with the facts.
Traci Monroe October 12, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Rex, ummm NO, I have better things to do than to rehash the same crap that has been rehashed every year for the past 42 years.
Tiffany Jones October 12, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Traci, you keep claiming others are biased but given the facts 1.YOU spoke negatively about a place you have never been to and imply YOU do not intend to go to. 2. YOU continue to claim bias despite being shown that all the facts you indicate are being hidden, glossed over or under-emphasized, are in fact widely available. 3. YOU claim a website is biased due to the people who run it, and yet those people have devoted the time, energy and money to put all the facts you are looking for online for all to see. They are not hiding facts and are in fact doing the opposite. All in an effort to educate the masses who DO CARE about history, especially history that happened in our city, at our school, to our citizens and was so horrific that it will never be forgotten. Can you remind me who is being biased?
Traci Monroe October 12, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Tiffany did you live in Kent and through the events that led up to May 4, my family did. Were you or any of your family members delayed in returning home from work to your family because of the civil unrest created by the protestors, my father was. There are untold stories from good law abiding tax paying citizens who have been and continue still to be ignored regarding the events up to and culminating on May 4. Was it a tragedy, YES, it didn't have to happen. NO ONE knows why the shots were fired or WHO fired the first one.
Tiffany Jones October 12, 2012 at 07:45 PM
"Your photo memories can be a part of the May 4 Visitors Center exhibit! Gallery I of the exhibit (opening in 2012) tells the story of May 4th set against the backdrop of changes of life in the 1960s: the struggle for social justice, the generation gap, and Vietnam. Consider being a part of the exhibit. Send your home photos to show what people from all walks of life looked like, what they cared about, and what they did as they experienced the ’60s. Guidelines Photos should be your property and taken between 1950 and 1970. Submit up to 10 photos. Photos must be sent by July 31, 2012." http://www.kent.edu/about/history/May4/virtualtour/photos/index.cfm You missed the deadline, but consider contacting the center and sharing your family's experience, It appears your intention (to have the ignored side be told) is also part of the center's mission. Here is the contact info listed: Laura Davis Faculty Coordinator for May 4 Initiatives Kent State University 800 Hilltop Drive Kent, OH 44242-0001 330-672-8561 ldavis1@kent.edu And to answer your question, my family lived in the greater Cleveland area at the time. The impact of this event was not limited in scope to Kent and was felt throughout the world and still is today. (We can agree to disagree on your last sentence.)
Traci Monroe October 13, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Yes the impact was felt throughout the world, but if you did not live in Kent at that time you only know what was reported and not the "behind the scenes" events that happened. PLEASE if you have any evidence that can lead to the prosecution of who fired the first shot present it, it will give much needed closure to the victims and their families.
Tiffany Jones October 14, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Finding the truth of what happened is of great concern to groups affiliated with the websites above including the survivors themselves, and they echo your plea. I also agree the best sources are the eyewitnesses, the survivors and those that have photographic and audio evidence from the actual events. I am assuming, that a lot of that is what is featured at the visitors center! Hope to see you there on Saturday!

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