Kent State Opens May 4th Shootings Center

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KENT, Ohio -- A new center opened this weekend, designed to educate visitors on a dark day in American history. It recognizes the National Guard shootings at Kent State University more than 40 years ago.

"Some students today know that an important event happened here, others are not quite as aware," said Laura Davis, the center’s director.

The May 4th Visitors Center officially opened on the campus of Kent State University Saturday morning.

It is designed to educate not only students, but also the general public, about the tragedy on that date in 1970 when the Ohio National Guard opened fire during a Vietnam War protest.

"It helps people understand why we were out there on May 4th, and why we were trying to stop the war," said shooting survivor Alan Canfora.

Four Kent State students died in the tragedy; he is one of the nine that were wounded.

"They can walk around the outside of the building and understand where the guard was, where the students were when they fired teargas and chased us, and then shot us down, so they can see the grounds, but also when they come inside the building, now they can get a good idea of what happened in the 1960s," Canfora said.

"When you have something that important, it's important to have something to show what it was like, what happened here...to explain the history of what happened at Kent State University," said another shooting survivor, Dean Kahler.

Visitors can walk through the 1,900 square foot center in Taylor Hall and see photographs and videos.  It also includes historical information on the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement as well.

"It's a story that's still in the making and there are things that we don't know that I hope we do know in our time," said Davis.

"I think I'd only learned maybe a paragraph worth of information in my 10th grade history class, and coming here to Kent State really opened by eyes to a completely new experience," said current Kent State student Meagan Eishen.

"I'm doubting, really in my heart that the absolute truth is ever gonna really be known...I could always hope so, but I don't think so," said Bob Barnett, who attended the university during the time of the shootings.

The May 4th Visitor’s Center is free and open to the public.

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