Kent: KSU May 4 Visitors Center open

3:36 PM, Oct 20, 2012   |    comments
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KENT-- An interactive center at Kent State University has opened its doors this weekend to provide a teachable moment of a day in history that shocked the world.

Four students were killed, on May 4, 1970, when members of the National Guard opened fire into a crowd of students protesting the Vietnam War and the decision by the Nixon Administration to invade Cambodia.

Several others were wounded. Some of those wounded weren't protesting, they were just bystanders.

Now, just steps away from where the tragedy took place, is a three-gallery exhibit that lays out what happened leading up to those shootings. The May 4 Visitors Center is a multi-media exhibit that sets the tone for the time in history.

The first gallery shows what was going on, not just in politics but also in pop culture. Round the corner and you will find a quote from President Nixon on the wall about the unpopular decision to on April 30, 1970 to invade Cambodia.

The next display shows a map of the United States, depicting the days that would follow -- May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, and the 132 protests that broke out at universities across the country as a result of the invasion.

The next room is a bit darker than the other displays. On the wall you will find minute-by-minute descriptions leading up to the 13 seconds of violent gunfire on May 4 that changed the lives of students, faculty, and the world forever.

Projectors show images, along with narrated videos and testimonials, from the people who were there that day.

The sound of the actual gunfire captured by a student that fateful day still is enough to make someone stop and pause, though the event happened four decades ago.

The room that follows brings the headlines of the time. The hometown newspapers of the four students who were fatally shot are displayed in the middle of the wall as a way to honor their young lives lost.

In addition to headlines plastered on the wall and the images of the days that followed, are artifacts and quotes of people who were touched by the events.

The technology inside the center spans the decades. The interactive displays begin with televisions from the 1960's time period. As you move through there is an opportunity to pick up a phone an listen to different television clips and other recordings that came as a result of the Kent State shootings.

As visitors leave, the technology corresponds with today's social media savvy world. Visitors are encouraged to leave a comment about what May 4 means to them.

The comments then scroll on television screens for people to read as they leave the center.

The center was unveiled to alumni this weekend as students return for KSU's homecoming festivities. It will be open to the public and tour groups on a regular basis after this weekend.


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