In the wake of a technological revolution, students have a chance to see what social media would’ve been like during the times of May 4, 1970.
Mindy Farmer, director of the May 4 Visitors Center, created @KSUVoices1970 for the Kent State community to see what the 1969-70 school year was like from various points of view. The Twitter and Instagram accounts for the project feature tweets and posts with captions. The captions are created with the intent of speaking as if the events during that time period were occurring today. She said it’s important for current students to see what life was like back then, seeing as it’s not too different from life now.
“Yes, the bands may have changed, but it’s still people going to the bars and listening to music,” Farmer said. “Yes, the dress may have changed, but it’s still people going to Goodwill to find the best deals.”
Lori Boes, assistant director of the May 4 Visitors Center, said a community "write-a-thon" took place last summer to help craft the posts.
“It helped us to make sure we were using the right vernacular, the right slang,” she said. “You know, the way people talk at that point.”
Chic Canfora, Tom Grace, Laura Davis, Tim Moore and Jerry M. Lewis are all prominent figures within the May 4 community. Each of the five share their voice on the social media accounts.
“Tom talks about, I think, getting a new jacket at the leather store downtown,” Farmer said. “Laura talks about how she finally hid her roommate’s alarm clocks because they were going off all the time and she needed a break.”
Tim Moore said nothing is going on in the world today that doesn't relate to the same situation that was happening on May 4, 1970. Moore is an emeritus professor from the Department of Pan-African Studies and served as president of the Black United Students in 1971.
“There are numerous forms of injustice in the world, no doubt,” Moore said. “The root cause is grounded in the same kinds of foundations which is ignorance, the inability to accept people for who they are, and misinformation on the part of many people who were outsiders when they tried to understand what was going on at Kent State during those years.”
Moore, a freshman at the time, was rushing a fraternity during the days leading up to May 4, 1970. He said that week was his hell week of rushing, but it was also the university's hell week.
“I came to understand and appreciate the human brotherhood that we all share,” Moore said. “We’re all brothers and sisters. Brotherhood and sisterhood is important. We had somehow gotten away from that and gotten caught up in our own little cliques.”
Jerry M. Lewis, an emeritus professor of sociology and former faculty marshal, said the social media project is crucial in remembering the four killed and nine wounded on May 4.
“My hope is that somebody who reads these posts will get interested in May 4, and begin to ask their own questions,” Lewis said. “I hope that my posts and the posts of the other four people will stimulate questions because the university is about intellectual questions.”
Moore said students should take a look at the May 4 Visitors Center and reap the benefits of Kent State’s history to make the world a better place.
“There’s no reason why something like that couldn’t happen again unless we can do something better with our time and our experiences on a college campus to make sure that we can still honor those that came before us and left this legacy for us,” Moore said.
Students can look forward to new posts on the @KSUVoices1970 accounts until May 2020.
“I think it’s an interesting question to ask ‘what if people in the 1970s could tweet?’” Farmer said. “And this is our attempt to answer that question.”
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