May 4 Task Force seeks to educate students and community


Members of the May 4th Task Force pose for a group photo after the event on Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013.

Kianna Bugglin

Five years after the May 4, 1970 shooting, the May 4 Task Force formed to organize commemoration events.

The Task Force, one of the longest-running student organizations on campus, aims to be the student voice in remembering the events.

Idris Kabir Syed, a lecturer in the Department of Pan-African Studies and faculty adviser for M4TF, said the organization first started in 1975.

“At that time, the university administration had decided that they wanted to stop holding commemorations,” Syed said. “That first four years — ’71 to ’75 — the university had organized the commemorations on their own.”

Syed said he went to his first commemoration as an undergraduate student and has been with the Task Force for nearly 25 years.

“The first commemoration I went to was in 1990, and I’ve been a member of the Task Force pretty much since then,” he said. “I was active as an undergraduate and as a graduate student, and in 2009, I became the faculty adviser.”

He said that the primary focus of the Task Force has always been singular: education.

“First and foremost, the task force has always been about educating both the student community and the larger community about the events surrounding May 4, 1970, in particular,” Syed said. “But also about social justice and activism, which are issues that were present at that time and are still present today.”

Ashley Manning, a junior English major and a current co-chair of the Task Force, said there is a lot of preparation that goes into planning the commemoration ceremonies each year. She said she is in charge of maintaining contact with the survivors and family members of May 4.

Although M4TF is a student organization, Syed said he encourages community members to join as well. He said his favorite part about working with the Task Force is working with the students themselves.

“It’s amazing to me that over 40 years, students who are born sometimes 20 or 25 years after the event have carried on the torch from the students who first started the Task Force,” he said. “They have really been conscious about promoting the history of May 4 to their generation and have really appreciated the spirit of the students who were around at the time.”

The May 4 Task Force has open meetings to the public every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the May 4 Resource Room on the first floor of the University Library.

Contact Kianna Bugglin at [email protected].