VIDEO: May 4 Visitors Center Goal to Leave Lasting Impression

Kent State to debut new center dedicated to shootings during Saturday's Homecoming events

The new May 4 Visitors Center at Kent State University opens to the public during Homecoming festivities Saturday, and those who created it hope those who walk through it leave educated about a watershed moment in U.S. history.

The center, located at Taylor Hall in the former Daily Kent Stater offices, tells the turbulent story of the 1960s and the atmosphere that led up to the shootings on May 4, 1970 that left four students dead and nine more wounded by Ohio National Guard fire.

Laura Davis, one of four faculty members who worked to develop the new visitors center, said she wants the people who visit the three-part center to take the knowledge they gain and apply it to the May 4 Walking Tour and other elements of the shootings site on campus.

"If we want to preserve the principles of a democratic society, we can learn from May 4 as a cautionary tale," Davis said. "What's illustrated very clearly is that young people can make a difference."

Regular visitor hours will start after the center debuts to the public Saturday.

Meet the three people interviewed in our video:

  • Jerry Lewis: an emeritus professor at Kent State, Lewis was on campus at the time of the shootings 42 years ago. Lewis was one of four faculty members who worked to get the 17-acre site encompassing the area of the shootings on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Dean Kahler: a student at Kent State in 1970, Kahler was one of the nine students hit and injured by gunfire from the Ohio National Guard troops. Kahler is a regular fixture at the annual commemoration of the shootings on each May 4.
  • Mark Seeman: a professor at Kent State, Seeman worked with Lewis, Davis and fellow professor Carole Barbato on the application to the National Register. He worked with the same three faculty members to develop the walking tour and new visitors center.
Alan Canfora October 17, 2012 at 04:27 PM
The goal of the fine new May 4 Visitors Center at KSU is to provide a historical context and educational information about the 1970 events. In recent years, KSU has embraced an admirable educational role to encourage learned historical lessons so a similar tragedy may be averted. They deserve our heartfelt praise at this time. A visitors center at such a public historical location should not be agitational. That is not its intended purpose. Most people in Kent understand the Kent May 4 Center and our student allies in the May 4 Task Force at KSU have remained the longstanding leaders of the May 4 Movement for truth and justice. The agitational task is ours. We discovered, revealed and announced the digital, forensic evidence proving the orders to fire on May 4, 1970. And we continue to take actions to destroy the longstanding cover-up of murder. Stay tuned for new developments announced in Kent soon. Meanwhile, we encourage the Kent community to embrace and support the new May 4 Visitors Center. Alan Canfora, Director Kent May 4 Center
Joseph Sima October 17, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Laurel, Your comments and summaries are correct as per evidence and testimonies. The FBI was involved and participated in actions prior to, during and after the May 4, 1970 shootings. Much of their involvement afterwards up to this year has been in the area of concealment of the facts and evidence which could finalize this case, bring justice to the parties involved and would correct history for future generations. Joseph Sima Witness and Evidence Resource for Congressional Committee (2010)
Traci Monroe October 18, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Would it bring to justice those that destroyed the town and harassed it's citizens?
ralph solonitz October 21, 2012 at 03:29 AM
I was taking night photo journalism classes and happen to be across the street the Friday night of the so called riot. a drunken parade of people were ordered to return to campus...spilled out into the street ...when bars are ordered to close and hundreds are in the streets...anything can happen. and it did.only windows were broken. But as we know destruction of property is a justification for killing innocent students a mile from the national guard! I was there...that was my class of 1970. Visit the center...get an education and you may not make stupid remarks...then again stupid is as stupid does.
Traci Monroe October 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Alot more happened than just broken windows, and it went on alot longer than just those first few days of May. Of course my family were just lowly tax paying citizens at the time so what we went through doesn't count.


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