Perspective on ...

Return to Issue of May 3, 2010


Today, trace the steps of history as you follow the self-guided May 4 walking tour. The walking tour features seven interpretive trail marker panels, like those you find in a national park. The markers are located throughout the 17.4-acre site, recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Find the marker map on the back of the May 4 Walking Tour brochure. Brochures are available in the future May 4 Visitors Center, in Room 101 of Taylor Hall, and in the mail box next to the May 4 Memorial. The brochure provides time stamped photos of May 1-4, 1970, an illustrated map of the shootings site and commentary on the impact and meaning of May 4 for today.

Photos and text also relate the May 4 story on the seven trail markers. Marker 1 describes the event that spurred demonstrations on college campuses around the country, including at Kent State, on May 1, 1970. Kent State was typical of the 100 schools that experienced protests that day. But, on May 4, when 28 members of the Ohio National Guard fired at demonstrators whom they had dispersed from the noon rally, the country saw our campus as a symbol — the day the war came home.

College students nationwide reacted to the shootings at Kent State with the largest student protest strike in U.S. history. President Jimmy Carter would later comment, “From Vietnam to Cambodia, from Los Angeles to Memphis, from Kent State to Watergate, the American spirit suffered under one shock after another, and the confidence of our people was deeply shaken.”

The trail markers were designed by world-class museum design firm Gallagher and Associates. Their most recent projects include the Museum and Visitors Center at Gettysburg, Pa., and the Museum at Bethel Woods where the Woodstock music festival took place in Woodstock, N.Y. Consultation with 50 scholars and experts, 300 Kent State students, community members and public forums informed the creation of the trail markers. A grant from the Ohio Humanities Council helped build the markers.

You can add to your experience of the May 4 Walking Tour in two ways. On May 1-4, sign up for a tour with a handheld device, which we’ll provide, and view May 4, 1970: Someone to Tell the Story, an original documentary. The seven chapters in the documentary are keyed to the seven trail markers.

To enhance your visit, sign up for the documentary-guided tour in the May 4 Visitors Center. In the style of Ken Burns, the documentary uses more than 500 photographs, generously provided by dozens of individuals and archives and never before brought together, to show you what happened May 1-4.

The documentary is narrated by notable civil rights leader Julian Bond, distinguished professor, lifelong participant in the struggle for social justice and immediate past chair of the NAACP. You also may listen to Bond's narration on your cell phone as you walk the tour by calling 330-672-MAY4(6294).

Follow your experience of the May 4 site by stopping at the May 4 Visitors Center, which will be open through May 4. The Visitors Center features a show by E. A. Meuser, whose work was created in response to May 4. You'll also find the working design of the future permanent Visitors Center exhibit, which is in the fundraising phase. You can follow progress on the May 4 Visitors Center at

Carole Barbato and Laura Davis

The Ohio Humanities Council is a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Current Issue | Archives | Search | Text Only | Contact Us | Login to FlashLine

University Communications and Marketing