CNN episode shows history of May 4 through music

Linda Stocum

People of all ages gathered in the Kiva Wednesday at 9 p.m. to view an episode of the CNN series “Soundtracks: Songs That Define History” in order to commemorate the May 4 Shootings.

“Seeing it with all of you is one of the best experiences of my life,” said Maro Chermayeff, the executive producer of the project.

The episode, which does not premiere nationwide until May 4 at 10 p.m. Eastern time, showed clips of the Kent State shooting, the Richard Nixon election and the Vietnam War that had never been released before to an audience, and it featured songs of the era including Neil Young’s “Ohio,” Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”

Chermayeff said putting together the project did not alter her perception of the Kent State shooting, but it did open her eyes to the people affected.

“It’s not just about a place,” she said. “It’s about the people. It’s great to see how much people still care.”

She also said trying to put together the story in the most accurate way was challenging.

“You have all these photographs and all this footage, and you are trying to piece it together,” Chermayeff said.

Producer and project editor Donna Shepard said working on the project impacted her due to her personal connection to the Vietnam War.

“My father did two tours in Vietnam. I was in the Army during Vietnam,” Shepard said. “The whole 60s and 70s is an emotional place for me.”

Several audience members commented they had never before seen some of the moments captured in the film, and footage including a clip of Kent State professor Seymore Brown talking to the National Guard was almost removed from the film since the studio did not originally want to show any video that had not already been aired on television.

Chermayeff also said one clip CNN was unable to include in the episode showed a young man who was at the shooting and spoke about seeing his best friend get shot.

Audience members also emphasized the importance of the film mentioning Vietnam War protests at other universities including Jackson State University, which resulted in the death of two students.

The film was featured as part of the May 4th Taskforce’s theme of “Tent City, 40 Years Later.”