The fifty-first anniversary of the May 4 shootings is the second anniversary to be held virtually during the pandemic whereas, in previous years, the events were held in person which featured a candlelight vigil the night before and speakers on May 4.
With this year’s lack of live, in-person events commemorate May 4 in mind, the members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) planned rigorously to provide five events for students and faculty over the five days leading to the anniversary.
“It’s been a lot of work getting everything together,” said Bryce Schlenker. ”All are going to be really cool events.” Schlenker is a co-chair of SDS and runs the organization’s social media accounts.
Events include showings of Daniel Miller’s film “Fire in the Heartland” with guest speakers such as Howie Emmer, group discussions on the progression of activist spaces and what it means to be a minority in these spaces since May 4.
“The panel on the Tent City Protest might resonate the most,” Schlenker said. “It wasn’t as important as May 4, as in no one died, but it was the next step in the conflict with the university. A lot of people don’t really know about it or how the university dealt with it.”
Two events will feature key speakers Frank Chapman and David Rivera. Chapman is the executive director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Rivera is a founding member of the Young Lords, a Chicago-based civil and human rights organization.
“Students will enjoy hearing them talk,” said Colt Hutchinson. Hutchinson is the SDS chair and heads the organization’s administrative tasks. “Going virtual has opened more doors. We’re able to get more speakers than we could in person.”
Hutchinson credits the organization’s ability to initiate so many events to the organization’s core members. “We met virtually over Zoom, every single Thursday. They are all very committed.”
According to Schlenker and Hutchinson, the organization did as much as it could to commemorate May 4 despite the obstacles provided by the pandemic.
Links to these May 4 events can be found on Kent State Students for a Democratic Society social media pages and under University Calendars at kent.edu/calendars.
May 4 event list
April 30, 5- 7 p.m.
“Fire in the Heartland” with guest speakers Howie Emmer and Candy Knox
May 1, 4 – 5 p.m.
Organizing as a Minority: A Discussion for Women, Queer, and BIPOC folx
May 2, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Tent City Protest and the Struggle to Move the Gym
May 3, 2 – 3 p.m.
Frank Chapman: Socialism and the Black Freedom Movement
May 4, 3 – 4 p.m.
The Young Lords: Lessons on Liberation
Blake Westover is the politics reporter. Contact him at [email protected]