Activist Alan Canfora, wounded in May 4 shootings, dies at 71

Kent State student Alan Canfora waves a flag at National Guardsmen on a practice field near Prentice Hall on the Kent State campus, May 4, 1970. Moments later, after the Guardsmen went back up Blanket Hill, they turned and fired on students and protesters, killing four students and wounding Canfora and eight others.

Madison MacArthur

Alan Canfora, 71, one of the nine students wounded during the May 4, 1970, protest at Kent State, died Dec. 20 following a brief illness unrelated to COVID-19. 

Chic Canfora, Alan’s sister, made the announcement on her Facebook page on Dec. 27. 

“It is with immense sadness that I share news of the passing of my beloved brother, Alan Canfora–a devastating loss to our family, friends and the Kent State/May 4 community,” she wrote. “Our hearts are broken at the loss of a spirit so irreplaceable to us and to the world. The burden of our grief will be lightened in the days to come by the thousands of voices Alan inspired, the causes he championed and the lives he changed. Give us strength and give us time.”

Canfora was raised in Barberton, Ohio, a suburb of Akron, and was shot in the wrist by Ohio National Guardsmen while participating in the anti-war protests. Four students, including Sandra Scheuer, Jeffrey Miller, William Schroeder and Allison Krause, were killed. 

Canfora was a member of Students for a Democratic Society and a founding member of the May 4th Task Force, which was started when the university stopped sponsoring the May 4 commemorations in 1975

A new scholarship in honor of Canfora was created to honor his life and legacy and to  support future Kent State students. The Alan Canfora Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by Michael Solomon, a 1974 Kent State graduate. 

“His toughness was well-balanced with his thoughtfulness. It is Alan’s character and commitment that make him the best of what it means to be an Ohioan and an American,” Solomon said. “It is why I have decided to help establish a Library Science scholarship in his name.”

University President Todd Diacon said Canfora’s legacy will never fade at Kent State. 

“As the president of Kent State University, I join with many others as we mourn the death of Alan Canfora, an individual so linked to our institution,” Diacon said. “Alan was tireless and fearless in his search for the truth of what really happened on May 4, 1970. He made a difference, and he will be missed.”

Canfora met his wife, Anastasia, at a May 4th Task Force meeting in 2009; they were married a year later. They had a daughter, Maya, in 2015 and a son, Lev, in 2020. 

In addition to his wife, children and sister, he is survived by his mother, Anna Canfora of Barberton; brothers, Albert ‘Sonny’ and Mark Canfora; numerous cousins and nephews.

Madison MacArthur is a News Lab reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

Editor’s note: This article was produced through a reporting partnership with the Collaborative News Lab @ Kent State University.