Presentation and discussion with author Thomas Grace
In Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties, Thomas M. Grace details how the National Guard killings of antiwar students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, were not a mere tragic anomaly. Rather they were grounded in a tradition of student political activism that extended back to Ohio’s labor battles of the 1950s. The vast expansion of the
university after World War II brought in growing numbers of working-class enrollees from the industrial centers of northeast Ohio, members of the same demographic cohort that eventually made up the core of American combat forces in Vietnam. As the Vietnam War’s rising costs came to be felt acutely in their home communities, Kent’s students joined the growing antiwar movement and clashed with the university administration and the political conservatives who dominated county and state government in Ohio. The battle over the memory and meaning of May 4 has continued to the present day.
THOMAS M. GRACE is adjunct professor of history at Erie Community College. A 1972 graduate of Kent State University, he earned a PhD in history from SUNY Buffalo after many years as a social worker and union representative.