Author Todd Gitlin to speak in library

Ryan Stainbrook

Author, professor at Columbia University and former activist for Students for a Democratic Society Todd Gitlin will be speaking about the May 4, 1970, shootings today at 6 p.m. in the special collections classroom on the 10th floor of the library.

“I’ve read his books, ‘The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage’ and “The Intellectuals and the Flag,’” said University Libraries Dean Mark Weber, who invited Gitlin to Kent State.

Gitlin is the author of twelve books in all and was heavily involved in SDS, where he coordinated the Peace Research and Education Project. During that time he helped organize the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War and the first American demonstrations against corporate aid to apartheid South Africa.

“He was active in SDS during the ‘60s,” Weber said. “Yet he became a scholar who has tried to view the student radicalism of the ‘60s as objectively as possible.”

Weber also said Gitlin’s approach is what encouraged him to ask Gitlin to speak.v

“He is very straight forward about the views,” Weber said. “He points out what were the positive and negative aspects of student activism in the 1960s.”

Weber also stressed that Gitlin is not an apologist for the student left of the ‘60s.

The combination of Weber and the events that happened at Kent State on May 4 are what drew Gitlin to come and speak.

“It was him (Dean Weber) asking me,” Gitlin said. “But Kent State occupies a place in my conscious; I was there for the 25th anniversary.”

Gitlin’s expertise on the ‘60s comes from personal experience.

“I spent 10 years in the ‘60s trying to change the world,” he said.

Gitlin said out of all the events that took place in the ‘60s, timing was the thing that separated May 4.

“It’s not about ranking it in importance,” Gitlin said. “It’s about when it happened. May 4 happened right after the surge of anti-war protest.”

Gitlin also mentioned that the events of May 4 were not only tragic, but also opened a whole new aspect to the anti-war protest.

“It revealed that there were authorities willing to stop at nothing and use violence to push back political uprising.”

Sophomore nursing major Ashley Spadaro has seen two May 4 ceremonies and says this one feels a little different than the first.

“It seem(ed) like a lot bigger deal than last year,” Spadaro said. “I think it’s mainly because of the 40th anniversary.”

Spadaro also mentioned she feels having people like Gitlin come to Kent State helps people learn a little more about the topic.

“I think it’s good they bring people like him (Gitlin) here,” Spadaro said. “It really lets people that weren’t around at the time see it through someone who was there’s eyes.”

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science reporter Ryan Stainbrook

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