Monday, May 5, 2008

The Aftermath of the Kent State University Shootings on May 4, 1970

Following the killing of four and the wounding of nine students at Kent State University by Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970, numerous pro-war and anti-war activities happened. To give you a feeling of these activities, here are news items from “Day by Day: The Seventies,” Volume 1, 1970-1975, by Thomas Leonard, Cynthia Crippen and Marc Aronson:

  • May 4 -- President Nixon describes Kent State shootings as unfortunate and calls for protection of the right to peaceful dissent.

  • May 4 -- Presidents of 37 colleges and universities warn Nixon that the nation’s youth are being alienated by war policies.

  • May 5 -- Students at Stanford and University of Maryland begin strikes to protest Nixon’s war policies.

  • May 5 -- At a White House meeting, President Nixon tells 28 senators and 72 representatives that U.S. troops will be pulled out of Cambodia in three to seven weeks.

  • May 5 -- Princeton University faculty vote for a two-week recess prior to the November elections to permit students to work for antiwar congressional candidates.

  • May 6 -- California Governor Ronald Reagan orders 27 state colleges and universities closed until May 10 in an effort to cool student tempers.

Just yesterday in yoga class a fellow student said to me, “People think the 60s were turbulent. But it’s really what happened right after the 60s that was turbulent.”

My fellow yoga student was right. The 60s get all the “claim to fame,” but the Vietnam War did not end on December 31, 1969. And what had been started by anti-war protesters in the 60s spilled over into the early years of the 70s.

The anti-war protest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August 1968 was one such event that led toward the Kent State shootings. If you haven’t ever seen the 1969 movie MEDIUM COOL about the violence at the convention, consider adding this title to your Netflix list. The film will give you a window into the divisive feelings of this period in U.S. history.

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