Protestors at UC Berkeley, May 5, 1970, Courtesy of Bancroft Library

Today is the 40th anniversary of Kent State, where four students were shot and killed by Ohio National Guardsmen.

The students were shot during a protest against President Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia, which he had announced on television a few days earlier.

The day after the shootings, students at UC Berkeley launched their own protest. This photo, supplied by the Bancroft Library as part of their “Digital Object of the Day,” shows student protesters walking around Sather Gate. The picture was taken by Theresa Lowenberg on May 5, 1970,

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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  1. Tom,

    I completely agree with you … remarkable how nothing has changed. When it was the 25th anniversary in 1995, I remember seeing something on the local news about the current students at KSU. They interviewed some students who said that the school should move past it, that it was not relevant to them at all, and that they somewhat resented hearing about it on campus every Spring. Things move in cycles, and it seems more students are now paying attention. Loved your feedback … it is so interesting to hear about different peoples’ recollections of historical events.

  2. Christine,

    I was four when this happened but it struck close enough to home that more and more of it emerged into my consciousness at a quite tender age.

    My experience wasn’t the same but was similar to yours in this way: my earliest notion of TV news was “Oh, that’s where they talk about war and about the putting the president on trial and various riots around the country.” That’s what news was – adults hurting one another in a way we kids were expected to fix.

    That was a decade where anyone in hoi poloi who was paying attention learned where they stand. The subsequent three decades an illustration of how few were paying attention.

    “Gotta get down to it /
    Soldiers are cutting us down /
    Should have been done long ago. /
    What if you knew her /
    And found her dead on the ground /
    How can you run when you know?

  3. I was in 10th grade when this event happened and lived (still live) in a Cleveland suburb, which is only about 40 minutes away from KSU. Years later, I attended grad school at Kent. Walking around that area, much of which looks the same, is amazingly calming and reflective. One of the outdoor metal sculptures still standing has a bullet hole in it … tourists go there to see it, and children put their finger in the bullet hole … around May 4th, people put flowers in it. When it happened, my dad was very upset, but being a later Baby Boomer who grew up watching the Vietnam War unfold every night on TV news, I couldn’t understand why this story of 4 people being shot by guardsmen would be so upsetting to my dad. Now, of course, I see how childish I was. Peace to the four slain students, and I hope May 4 will always be acknowledged as an important date in U.S. history.


    At Emerson we find it so important to keep the memory alive and the lessons learned from that day at the forefront of our minds. It may have been before our time but we know there is so much to be learned from that day. This project is our commemoration to all involved and affected by Kent State.

    Thanks so much!