JACKSON TWP. On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine Kent State students. The impact of the shootings was dramatic. The event triggered a nationwide student strike that forced hundreds of colleges and universities to close.

The 50th anniversary of that tragic day in 1970 on the Kent State University campus is being commemorated in 2020. The events scheduled provides an opportunity for all to remember and honor the tragic events of May 4, 1970.

The first of five events scheduled this semester at Kent State Stark was on Jan. 22 in the Science and Nursing Building. The audience was a mix of young students and persons who may have been from the generations who saw the events taking place in person or on television.

The event was titled “Jackson State, Kent State and the Civil Rights Movement” and included a panel of four people: Dr. Robert Hamilton, IV; Dr. Leslie Heaphy; Professor Idris Syed; and Dr. Chris Post. Discussion included some lecture and then a question answer period at the end.

This program had discussions of how the shootings at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, and Jackson State College in Mississippi, where students from both institutions were shot and killed, fit within the larger societal issues of race and violence against protestors at that time.

In addition to the first presentation, Kent State University at Stark will commemorate this important event in American history with a look at the events leading up to May 4, 1970 – and beyond.

Here’s a look at the free, public events to be held at Kent State Stark, 6000 Frank Ave. NW:

Placing May 4, 1970, in historical context

Feb. 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Main Hall (auditorium)

This Stark Campus presentation will detail the events leading up to and surrounding May 4, 1970, as well as reactions and responses. Time will also be spent talking about its importance and relevancy today. Presented by Dr. Leslie Heaphy, associate professor of history.

Theatre auditions for “May 4th Voices”

Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Fine Arts Building (studio theater)

The Kent State University at Stark Theatre will hold open auditions for “May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970” by David Hassler. Auditions are open to everyone, including students and members of the community. Kent State Stark encourages diversity in casting. Those auditioning may perform a prepared monologue, or work from selected scene excerpts (sides) chosen by the director at the auditions. Visit www.kent.edu/stark/may-4th-voices for more information.

How we remember May 4, 1970

March 11, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Science and Nursing Building (Room 101)

This Stark Campus presentation, “How We Remember May 4th: A Geographic Approach to Looking Back and Moving Forward,” will assess the commemorative history regarding the events surrounding May 4, 1970, at Kent State University, from a geographic perspective. Dr. Chris Post, a cultural and historical geographer, will present on geographic thought and analysis, which includes seeking an understanding of memorial landscapes and how they came to be, particularly by assessing where they are located, who controls their production and when/how they are produced. Presented by Dr. Chris Post, associate professor of geography.

“May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970”

April 17-18 and April 24-25, 7:30 p.m.; April 19 and 26, 2 p.m.; Fine Arts Building (The Mary J. Timken Theatre)

“May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970” by David Hassler brings together first-person narratives about the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State University. First performed in 2010 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the shootings, the “May 4th Voices” play is composed of verbatim excerpts from the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project. Weaving these voices and stories together, Hassler’s play tells the human story of May 4, 1970, and its aftermath while capturing the tragedy, which had a profound impact on the nation and is credited as a catalyst in changing Americans’ view toward U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Tickets available April 6. Visit www.kent.edu/stark/may-4th-voices.