As schools and businesses close down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kent State has announced through an email to students, faculty and staff that the May 4 50th commemoration will be entirely virtual. 

In March, Kent State announced that it would be cancelling the weekend full of programming marking the 50th commemoration of the May 4, 1970 shootings due to the Ohio Department of Health’s guidelines for the coronavirus.

may 4

Pictured are the four Kent State University students who were killed on May 4, 1970. From left to right are Allison Krause, William Schroeder, Sandra Scheuer and Jeffrey Miller.

Virtually, Kent State will now offer different exhibits, online videos and learning resources beginning on Friday, May 1. This will all be on display at the May 4 Commemoration website at https://www.kent.edu/may4kentstate50

The online commemoration culminates the yearlong observance of the 50th anniversary of the shootings that included more than 100 programs and educational activities, which took place universitywide and around the country between July 31, 2019 and May 1, 2020,” stated the email from may4ksu. 

Videos, such as interviews with May 4 survivors, tours of the May 4 Visitors Center and the National Historic Landmark site and more will all be online for visitors to watch. Different exhibits discussing the May 4 Task Force, the Jackson State University shooting and the campus strike of 1970 will also be available online. 

In addition to the content previously made, airing at noon on May 4 will be the centerpiece of the virtual commemoration. This centerpiece will be a special video tribute, “featuring footage from past commemorations as well as newly recorded messages from several of the students wounded in 1970 who reflect on that day and their lives since the shootings.”

Several musicians whose careers and music were affected by the events of May 4, such as David Crosby and Graham Nash from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jerry Casale from DEVO and Jesse Colin Young from the Youngbloods, have also contributed new messages for the commemoration video, as well as the 50th commemoration website. 

The website will also be showing two new online projects, including the May 4 Augmented Reality Tour and the Mapping of May 4. 

The play, “May 4th Voices,” created by David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, will be newly recorded and broadcast on several public radio stations as well as directly from the 50th Commemoration website. Actress Tina Fey and her husband and Kent State alumnus Jeff Richmond are a part of this newly recorded version. Other actors include Ron West, Marc Jaffe, Joe Gunderman, Natalie Knepp and Matthew Solomon. 

The annual candlelight march and vigil tradition starting at 11 p.m. on May 3 and continuing to noon on May 4 is unable to happen this year, but Kent State is asking for everyone to participate through a virtual candlelight vigil. 

For more information or to view Kent State’s online 50th Commemoration of May 4, please visit the official website at www.kent.edu/may4kentstate50.

Sara Crawford is an assigning editor. Contact her at scrawf23@kent.edu. 

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