Task Force sets plans for next week’s May 4 events

Rick Pongonis

The May 4 Task Force finalized plans Thursday for next week’s commemoration of the anniversary of the historic event in Kent State’s history.

“We are here to preserve the memory of the events and to honor the memories of those both killed and injured at Kent State,” said Brandon Mallon, a junior history major and president of the student organization tasked with coordinating the events each year. “(We) strive to provide the importance of continuing that legacy to the present day.”

Wednesday will be a day of panel discussions in the Kiva. At 4 p.m., Kent State history professor Kenneth Bindas will moderate a discussion on the impact of the recent National Historic Landmark status given to the May 4 sites on campus.

May 4 witness, Jerry Lewis, is one of the panelists.

“He is not in great shape, and his Parkinson’s isn’t doing well,” said Idris Syed, assistant professor of Pan-African studies and advisor of the Task Force. “We’ll have him give a speech, but he is not going to walk.”

Then at 7 p.m. in the Kiva, speakers will explore the Tent City protests that happened in 1977 when plans for the M.A.C.C. Annex threatened to encroach May 4 locations. The protests earned the “Tent City” name when those against the proposed construction camped out on the sites.

A screening of the May 4-focused episode of CNN’s new docuseries “Soundtracks: Songs that Defined History” will begin at 9 p.m. in the Kiva. After the screening, producers and directors behind the project will speak.

The episode, titled “Kent State and the Vietnam War,” premieres May 4 on CNN at 10 p.m.

At 11 p.m., the annual candlelight vigil march will start at the Victory Bell and end at the parking lot next to Prentice Hall where the four students were killed during protests on May 4, 1970.

On Thursday, authors will sign their May 4 writings at the University Bookstore at 10 a.m.

Keynote speaker Lecia Brooks, outreach director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will take the stage at noon on the Commons. Todd Diacon, Kent State senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, will also speak.

Last year’s keynote speaker for the May 4 commemoration was Samaria Rice, mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was killed by police in 2014.

An open forum will be held at 4 p.m. at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center to gauge input from the community about plans for the 50th anniversary, which will be in 2020.

The May 4 Visitors Center will temporarily open its doors as Taylor Hall continues renovations, with special hours Monday through Friday.

Rick Pongonis is the university tech reporter, contact him at [email protected].