May 4 named as National Historic Landmark

A student passes through the Kent State May 4 Memorial on the evening of May 3, 2016.

Lydia Taylor

The site of May 4 on Kent State’s main campus is now registered as a National Historic Landmark, The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Wednesday.

Laura Davis, a founder of the May 4 Visitors Center and an English professor at Kent State, prepared a nomination alongside colleagues for the site to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination was accepted in 2010.  

“Once we got that confirmation, my colleagues and I decided to move forward with putting in a nomination for the site to be a national landmark, which it the highest kind of landmark there is,” Davis said. “We wanted people to know of the significance of the events that happened here.”

The process began in 2012 when the Ohio Historic Preservation office sent a letter of inquiry to the National Landmark office about naming the site as a national landmark. Davis said the National Landmark office responded in 2013 and showed enthusiasm about the nomination for landmark status.

“Most national historic landmark nominations need to meet the requirement that the landmark must be 50 years old,” Davis said, “but since the nomination for the May 4 site made a strong case of national significance, it was approved before its 50th anniversary in 2020.”

Davis said that toward the end of her retirement, she was worried the history of May 4 wasn’t as accessible to those who would come to visit campus and drive around, wandering the grounds.

With the site being announced as a national landmark, Davis hopes it will attract those who want to learn about the history and make it more attainable.

“It’s exciting to see that this history is being recognized and its significance is being recognized,” Davis said. “Telling the story of May 4 is something that we should be doing. It’s our job to tell this story of what happened here. Even though decades have gone by since the shootings, it’s a story that continues to have meaning to people today.”

Lydia Taylor is an assigning editor, contact her at [email protected].