40th Commemoration of Kent State Shootings

The following correspondence is from a Revolution newspaper seller who went to the Kent State 40th Anniversary Commemoration, and first appeared on the web site of Revolution newspaper.

I went to Kent State University in the late 1970's, and have been to almost every May 4 since then. The same banner hangs on the stage each year which expresses why people need to commemorate this day – "Long Live the Spirit of Kent and Jackson State!" This year's theme was expressed by an additional banner on the stage – "Roots of Resistance, Continuing the Struggle."
There had been so much on the news, on the internet, and mainstream media about this 40th anniversary. It was unlike anything I'd seen before. There was also a nationwide movement begun which I joined because it was the first time I'd seen anything like this! In its description on Facebook, which has over 1000 members, it says "Because permitted marches once a year do not seem to be getting Obama's attention."
When we got to Blanket Hill, people were everywhere, and still coming. Groups of students from Kent State, and other Ohio colleges; a variety of high schools students, including from as far away as Dayton; Kent State alumni brought their kids, and some their grandkids; people who live in the surrounding area of small towns; professors from many local colleges & universities. Young women walked through the crowds giving out flowers. Dogs romped; Frisbees soared. And then at 12:36 pm the victory bell rang out, marking the time when the shots were fired here in 1970. And a moment of silence. 13 doves were released, marking the 13 students killed or wounded on that day 40 years ago.
Then the commemoration began. Many people spoke and it was hard not to be angry one moment and be close to tears the next. Students gave the history of May 4. Eyewitnesses to the Kent shootings and family members of the slain students talked. One man spoke who was a witness to the shootings at Jackson State, 10 days after the Kent shootings.
The main speakers were Black Panther leader Bobby Seale and Gerald Casale of DEVO; Bernardine Dohrn and Mark Rudd, ex-SDS leaders.
As the commemoration was going on, Revolution Books had its table and big red flag set up. We are the revolutionary pole of the May 4 scene every year. We mainly exhibited the works of Bob Avakian, and we told people that we are part of a nationwide campaign, "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have." We were not there 5 minutes and sold a copy of Away With All Gods. That particular book got picked up more than any other. We also sold a copy of Bob Avakian’s memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond. We sold Revolution newspaper, and distributed almost 1000 copies of the RCP’s Message & Call, “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have.”
The exhibit of books, the papers, and the red flag drew a good amount of attention, curiosity, and conversation. One thing that created a scene was when a young woman began giving out a few of the florescent colored stickers we had, "We are ALL Illegals." For about five minutes, people had their hands out, mainly young people but a few older ones as well, wanting to put on the stickers right away and being glad that someone was speaking about the fascist attacks on immigrants in Arizona and beyond.
We then found out, a couple minutes later that a student group called SADIP (Students Against Discriminatory Immigration Policies) was calling for a march after the commemoration. A young woman student took a huge handful of stickers and said she'd distribute them to the marchers. A number of students had little fliers, about 1/8 of a page, that they passed out during the commemoration.
The march was great! The bright stickers were seen everywhere. One person said that it was the most multi-cultural protest he'd ever seen. The march started on the commons, went over the hill of daffodils to the killing fields. The marchers circled the parking lot where the four were killed and a few minutes of silence, then the march wound up at Risman Plaza, by the Student Center. One person also said that this was the high point of the day!


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