May 4 was properly commemorated

May 4 Task Force

May 4th, 2010, marked the 40th year since the National Guard opened fire on students at Kent State University, leaving 13 casualties. The May 4th Task Force, now in their 35th year, has historically had two roles: one is to commemorate the casualties of that fateful day (as well as recognizing students killed at Jackson State 10 days later).

We feel that we properly honored that memory by having, among others, family members, eyewitnesses and representatives of the victims (Russ Miller, brother of Kent State martyr Jeff Miller; Florence Schroeder, mother of Kent State martyr William Schroeder; Joe Lewis, May 4, 1970 eyewitness/casualty; Chic Canfora, sister of casualty Alan Canfora and May 4 eyewitness; Barry Levine, friend of Allison Krause; current student Sarah Franciosa, president of Alpha Xi Delta — of martyr Sandra Scheuer’s sorority — and Gene Young of Jackson State) speak during the commemoration events. We found it biased that the Daily Kent Stater editorial board neglected to include any of these speakers in their myopic editorial (“May 4 speakers disappoint,” April 18) about the Task Force choice in speakers.

The second role of the task force has always been to educate current students about the events, which led to the student activism that occurred in 1970 (as well as to promote continued student activism). We support(ed) Rep. John Lewis and were thankful the university brought him to speak. The so-called “cream of the crop…militant speakers,” Mark Rudd, Bobby Seale (and we will include Bernadine Dohrn), spoke about a more radical element of the “new left” movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. More importantly, they also continue to address the imperialist, colonialist, and racist nature of our government, both in the past, and today.

We are grateful for their participation, through programs such as the student activism conference, which took place May1st-3rd, as well aas during the May 4th commemoration. It should be noted that two of those speakers, Rudd and Dohrn, came at no cost to the university, bearing the cost of travel and accommodation on their own (another point which the Daily Kent Stater editorial board failed to mention). We believe that we are fair and balanced in our presentation of the importance, relevance and history of May 4th. This year we had a National Guardsman (present during the shootings) and Vietnam Veterans participate in our fall programming.

We are actively seeking three demands. The Task Force fought for the rights of student activists and will continue to do so: we are seeking 13 new student activist scholarships (for those who remember and continue the spirit of, but are not limited to, May 4th activism). We also seek the removal of (i.e. the transplant, not killing of) three trees planted on the site after May 4th, 1970. We demand the completion of the May 4 memorial (only 7 percent completed).

Finally, we would like to thank the university (and larger) community for remembering and honoring the spirit of Kent and Jackson State on the 40th commemoration.


The May 4th Task Force