Education Programs: Landmarks of American History and Culture

Period of Performance

10/1/2019 - 12/31/2021

Funding Totals

$187,393.00 (approved)
$185,327.81 (awarded)

Making Meaning of May 4th: The 1970 Kent State Shootings in US History

FAIN: BH-267113-19

Kent State University (Kent, OH 44242-0001)
Todd Hawley (Project Director: February 2019 to May 2022)
Laura L. Davis (Co Project Director: September 2019 to May 2022)

Two one-week workshops for 72 school teachers on the 1970 Kent State Shootings.

The Kent State Shootings, occurring May 4, 1970 when the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four students and wounded nine others during a student protest against the Vietnam War, is considered to be a turning point in American history. Its implications for First Amendment rights, excessive use of government force, and the importance of younger generations seeking to make a difference, all continue to have a relevant echo today, with their lessons more important now than ever. As the event reaches the fifty-year mark in 2020, teachers will convene at this National Historic Landmark site where they will engage with scholars and eyewitnesses, explore the May 4 Visitors Center, Walking Tour, and the extensive May 4 Collection to develop a deeper understanding of this historical event. Teachers will develop transformative lessons to engage their students in deep study of May 4 and transcendent historical themes including freedom of speech, student activism, and peaceful protest.

Media Coverage

Educators Reflect on Powerful Experiences During May 4 Summer Workshop (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Julie Selby
Publication: Kent State Today
Date: 7/22/2021
Abstract: This article features comments by two participants in summer 2021 workshops supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by Kent State University. The grant project, titled "Making Meaning of May 4th: The 1970 Kent State Shootings in U.S. History" and co-directed by Professors Laura Davis and Todd Hawley, selected K–12 educators from throughout the U.S. to participate in an intensive weeklong seminar on the history of the Kent State shootings set in the context of the 1960s and '70s. This prepared educators to develop teaching plans during their weeklong workshop to use with their own students. The educators interviewed speak to how young people can make a difference and the importance of asking difficult questions so as to preserve our democracy.

Associated Products

Making Meaning of May 4: Teaching about the Kent State Shootings (Web Resource)
Title: Making Meaning of May 4: Teaching about the Kent State Shootings
Author: Laura L. Davis
Author: Todd Hawley
Author: Katherine Bryk
Abstract: The Making Meaning of May 4 web site provides resources for educators to use to: • promote understanding of the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970, • enhance humanities education across the disciplines, and • demonstrate the meaning of May 4 for today. Explore the site to find: • sample teaching plans developed by sixty-nine K–12 educators from throughout the United States • May 4 chronology, maps, teaching handouts • what happened on May 4—recommended readings and videos • pointers to primary & context sources—the sixties, May 4 & Vietnam War Literature, oral histories, guardsmen’s accounts, student activism now • an examination of the significance of the Kent State shootings on the arc of American history • connections among Kent State—South Carolina State, Orangeburg—Jackson State • quick links to 50,000+ digital May 4 resources • how to visit the May 4 site, museum, and archives with students, and more.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Making Meaning of May 4: Teaching about the Kent State Shootings is a Web site featuring sample teaching plans, pointers to a wealth of May 4 resources, and the in-depth account in the successful nomination for the shootings site's designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2016. Web site materials are for use by educators from K–12 through college to teach students about the Kent State Shootings on May 4, 1970, and their meaning for today. On that day, members of the Ohio National Guard dispersed onlookers and student protestors against both the invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War and the presence of the National Guard on campus. When they appeared to be leaving the area and without warning, guardsmen turned, aimed, and fired, killing four Kent State students and wounding nine other Kent State students. The May 4 story relates to significant issues for students and citizens today, including the First Amendment and the importance of civil discourse even when we disagree.