The May 4

memorialschematic.JPG (18053 bytes)

Illustration:93 percent unbuilt...7 percent built.
The May 4 Memorial as originally designed by Bruno Ast, with the current
7 percent outlined in black and showing that which is yet to be constructed.

*Photos of May 4 Memorial-1 and May 4 Memorial-2 and Plaque and map with Memorial location.

The 20th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State was marked with controversy and with a renewed sense of purpose in the struggle for truth and for a fitting memorial to those who lost their lives in the struggle for peace two decades ago. Current student activists joined veterans of the student movement in a special commemoration and a weekend conference that many say was the most productive May 4 since 1970. Throughout the weekend, the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters at Kent and Jackson State was a focal point as we reviewed the struggles we faced in the past and prepared for those which we face us now and in the future. In particular, the continued insensitivity of the Kent State University administration to the significance of May 4, 1970 is alarming.

Unfinished Business

While media attention around the world focused on Kent State on May 4, 1990, many wondered if the university’s planned “Memorial Dedication” would represent a new era of “healing” and finally, a proper tribute to Allison, Jeff, Sandy and Bill. The Kent May 4 Center launched an aggressive campaign to expose the realities of the planned “mini-memorial.”
It sounded promising in 1985, when the Kent State University administration announced its memorial design competition, and secured $200,000 from the National Endowments for the Arts to make it possible. However, what followed was nothing less than a sham.
In July of 1986, when Bruno Ast’s impressive May 4 memorial design was selected and approved for construction at a cost of $1.3 million dollars, the American Legion was quick to denounce the planned May 4 memorial as a “memorial to terrorists.” Officials of Kent State University bowed to the conservative pressure, and their efforts (or lack of any effort) to raise funds were proof that they caved in.

The Shrinking Memorial

In order to construct a grandiose fashion museum and fashion design school, Kent State University leaders hired a professional fundraising firm, assembled 178 persons for a national fundraising committee and promoted a national advertising and solicitation campaign. For the cause of fashion, $6 million was promptly and efficiently raised.
For the may 4 Memorial, the university hired no fundraising committee and promoted no national advertising or fundraising campaign for the needed $1.3 million dollars.
Then on November 15, 1988, the university appeased the American Legion and their conservative counterparts with their grand announcement that the $1.3 million dollar May 4 Memorial would have to be reduced by 93%, to a scaled down $100,000 portion of the original design due to “lack of public support.” Even worse, the May 4 Memorial would not be dedicated to those who lost their lives on May 4, 1970, but would simply memorialize the “Events of May, 1970,” with no explanation of what happened at KSU on May 4, and no inclusion on the memorial of the names of those slain or wounded by National Guard gunfire 20 years ago.
The words “Inquire, Learn, Reflect” were thought by the university administration as sufficient enough a message for those who pass the memorial 50 years from now, and wonder what happened on May 4, 1970.
The mini-memorial planned by KSU President Michael Schwartz was widely criticized as inadequate. Many, including nearly all of the families of the May 4 shooting victims condemned the university’s attempt to purposely fail to raise memorial funds and reduce the the memorial so significantly. Intense media scrutiny followed and ultimately forced a reluctant Schwartz to announce a few concessions as May 4, 1990 approached.


Under intense pressure and criticism, Schwartz was forced to finally grant memorial scholarships in the names of the four dead students (promised in 1978 after the anti-gym protests). Then, only days before May 4, 1990, Schwartz grudgingly put the names of the victims on a plaque “near” the May 4 Memorial.

*May 4 Memorial and Plaque photos by Mike Pacifico

May 4 Commemoration Photo Archives | Alpahbatized Site Index | Research Guide |
May 4 Books and Resources | May 4 Chronology   | Jackson State | Parking Lot Memorials | May 4 Memorial | Tent City and The Gym Struggle | May 4 Task Force | William Kunstler | Arthur Krause | Links Page |   May 4 Buttons | Your Story | May 4 Forum | May 4, 1998 |
May 4, 1999 | May 4, 2000  | May 4, 2001 | Chat Room | Home |

Hit Counter