Jane Fonda to speak at Kent State to mark 50 years since May 4 shootings

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KENT, Ohio (WJW)– Kent State University released a schedule of events to commemorate 50 years since the May 4, 1970 shootings.

This year’s programming focuses on unity and reconciliation. It also centers around the legacy of May 4, when the Ohio National Guard fired on anti-war protesters, killing four and wounding nine.

“It is our great responsibility and honor to welcome the nation and world to our campus,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon, in a news release on Monday.

“Together we will remember Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder, and honor Kent State and community members who have kept their memories alive for 50 years. We will listen to, and learn from, noted speakers, experts and performers, all while we absorb the lessons of the importance of free speech, the need for civil dialogue and the dangers of polarization.”

Among the speakers is activist and actress Jane Fonda. The 82-year-old has made headlines over the last few months for her “Fire Drill Fridays,” a series of weekly climate change demonstrations in Washington D.C. that end with the arrest of her and other celebrities, including Ted Danson, Sally Field, Joaquin Pheonix and Martin Sheen.

Opening Event
Commemoration Weekend kicks off at noon on the Commons at Kent State with a program remembering two student rallies on May 1, 1970, that set into motion events that would change public opinion about the Vietnam War.

Panel: The Impact of the Anti-War Movement
As the Vietnam War continued to escalate with the invasion of Cambodia, resistance to the war grew across college campuses nationwide. In Kent, anti-war students focused their efforts on opposing the Cambodian invasion and Black United Students centered on the disparate treatment of African Americans on campus and in the wider society. This panel discussion explores how student activists as well as rank-and-file soldiers and military veterans influenced public opinion and helped force an end to the conflict and redress racial inequities.

Panel: WITNESS – The Pivotal Role of Students in Documenting the May 4 Shootings
Through this panel discussion and a companion exhibit, “WITNESS” tells the story of the events of May 4, 1970, through the eyes of the Kent State students and student journalists who experienced them. Their words and photographs offer compelling and courageous eyewitness perspectives that served as an early and essential visual history of May 4.

Documentary Film Series
“The War at Home” – Glenn Silber, Co-Director
“Fire in the Heartland” – Danny Miller, Director
Screenings of the documentaries will be hosted by the respective filmmaker and will be followed by an audience discussion. Both films also will be shown throughout the weekend.

Global Voices of Student Activism at Kent State
After returning to their home countries, many international students translate their Kent State learning experiences into social engagement and activism. This panel discussion showcases extraordinary stories of students and alumni who have contributed to solving environmental issues and social conflicts at home.

Untold Personal Stories of May 4, 1970
Kent State alumni and former students share their previously untold personal stories of May 4, 1970, in a compelling panel discussion.

50th Commemoration Concert to Benefit the May 4 Legacy Scholarships
Kent State will hold a special benefit concert with proceeds to support the newly created May 4 Legacy Scholarships honoring the four students killed on May 4, 1970. More details and artist lineup will be announced soon.

Dedication Ceremony: Markers Honoring the Nine Students Wounded on May 4, 1970
Kent State dedicates the installation of nine individual bronze markers remembering the wounded students – Alan Canfora, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Dean Kahler, Joseph Lewis, Donald MacKenzie, James Russell, Robert Stamps and Douglas Wrentmore – and marking the location where each was shot on May 4, 1970.

Keynote Luncheon Speaker: Eminent Historian Eric Foner
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, will be featured. He is one of the nation’s leading historians and a Bancroft, Lincoln and Pulitzer prize-winning scholar on divisive conflicts in American history.

Educational Forums and Panels
Several panel discussions during the day will focus on topics including the evolution of the May 4 Task Force, the 1985-1990 May 4 Memorial process and the legal aftermath of the May 4 shootings.

Presidential Speaker Series: Activist and Actress Jane Fonda
Activist and Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda is the featured Presidential Speaker for the May 4 Commemoration weekend. She will discuss her life in social activism and reflect on the history and legacy of the events of May 4, 1970. The event is free and open to the public, but advance reserved tickets are required.

Annual Candlelight March and Vigil
The annual candlelight march and silent vigil have been meaningful traditions since 1971, honoring the students who were killed or wounded on May 4, 1970. The candlelight march begins at 11 p.m., and the silent vigil is held from midnight until the noon May 4 Commemoration ceremony.

Honoring the Faculty Marshals and Faculty of 1970
This special breakfast honors the faculty marshals and the faculty of 1970 who prevented further bloodshed on May 4 and assisted students in continuing their studies after the closure of the university. Their courage, sacrifice and support continue to inspire to this day.

Commemoration Ceremony
The yearlong 50th Commemoration of May 4, 1970, culminates in this meaningful ceremony honoring and remembering lives lost and forever changed. This milestone program pays homage to the May 4 legacy and includes reflections; special recognitions; tributes to fallen students Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder; the reading of the chronology; music; and a symbolic moment of reflection at 12:24 p.m., the exact time when the shootings occurred.

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