May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970

On May 4th, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen fired 67 shots in 13 seconds during a Vietnam War protest on the Kent State University Campus leaving four students dead, and nine injured This tragedy had a profound impact on our university, the nation, and the world, and became a catalyst in changing American views toward the US involvement in Vietnam The play you are about to see, May 4th Voices, is based on the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project, a remarkable archive of over 110 interviews that document first-person narratives and personal reactions to May 4th, and its aftermath All the voices in the play are derived from verbatim excerpts of these interviews and woven together anonymously, except for that of the narrator, which is performed by Kent poet, Maj Ragain May 4th Voices has been re-staged for this film by 15 Ken State undergraduate students enrolled in a semester long theater course These students, some with no previous theater training have engaged deeply and meaningfully with this material to devise a unique way to stage and give voice to the experience of students and community members from a generation ago >> This production of May 4th Voices is made possible by a generous grant from the Ohio Humanities Council With support from Kent State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History, Wick Poetry Center and School of Theatre and Dance [MUSIC] I first came to Kent on a July morning 1969 I was 29 years old, having driven all night from Illinois, hung over, raw, leaving the carnival undertow of my youth, hot dreams and crazy love I first saw the town from Route 59, the cluster of buildings catching the sun I remember thinking it looked like the photographs of an Italian town reared up in the sky Years later, when I got to Italy, some of the towns looked from a distance like Kent I was glad to find a river and railroad tracks, a brick train station, water and steel joining this to that The overpass Haymaker Parkway was still on the drawing boards I entered Kent over the old Main Street bridge and right onto Water Street, always find a water street I settled in to the Alderson apartments at 80 bucks a month and began life as a graduate student Wasn’t much good at it Spent too much time at Walter’s bar on Water street, gave my heart away every full moon and took incompletes in my classes By then the Vietnam Veterans Against the War had organized in Kent I remember them stopping traffic on Main Street in front of Captain Brady’s Cafe, 100 or more of them marching ragtag, bearded, silent, some amputees, couple of men rolling wheelchairs, Coxey’s army come home Later that day, the vets held a teach-in at Fred Fuller Park under the big trees,

a small encampment of listeners bending to the hard lessons >> The first draft lottery was December 1st, 1969 That’s one of those dates I’ll never forget If you didn’t go through those times, it’s hard to understand what was going through people’s head >> I had a high number, 263 or something, and the day after on campus with the first few guys you would meet, you would ask what was your number last night? And they would say, mine was 300 or something, and somebody else would say- >> Three >> And you knew he was drafted >> Only a couple of years ago, I finally put my draft card away I carried it from the time I was 18 until my mid 50s >> By lunchtime, when you met another guy on campus, you wouldn’t even ask what their number was You wouldn’t even say hello You would just greet each other by saying, 263, and the other guy would say- >> 48 >> And you’d start your conversation from there >> It wasn’t supposed to be for identification But, if you were a male and over 18, you couldn’t go anywhere without it It was your ID >> I loved my college years, but at the same time, I remember the anxiety I suffered >> And that was all that was being discussed that day >> The constant feelings of stress >> The heart beat rate being elevated in 1967 and 68, particularly, when Martin Luther King Jr was shot, and then Robert Kennedy right in front of our eyes on television And my friends, of course, going off to Vietnam [NOISE] >> There were friends of mine that came back to my hometown that were never the same That was my hometown I grew up here I started at the University in 1963, but I didn’t do so well So, I joined the service >> I was kind of a procrastinator >> A few year later, I found myself off the coast of Vietnam, and I realized this war was wrong So, I told my division officer, I would not pull the trigger, if it were to come to that And I returned to Kent as an anti-war Vietnam Veteran >> I didn’t do what many people were doing at the time, either going into college or joining the National Guard in order to avoid the draft I hadn’t done either and really felt that getting drafted was imminent >> I marched on Main Street, and I spoke at teach-ins I sort of became my own individual peace movement >> I remember my mother called me one day at work and said a registered letter came for you, and you can pick it up at the post office We didn’t get it in time from the mailman >> So that afternoon, I called the National Guard They told me that they had one or two openings, and that there were four people about to interview for them They told me I could come right down, and if I passed all their tests, they would swear me in right there So I went down, passed all the requirements and was sworn in The next day, I went to the post office and discovered that it was a notice from my insurance company saying I had money coming back to me because I just changed my automobile insurance It wasn’t a draft notice So this explains why I was in the National Guard I was not really a very serious type of soldier I didn’t feel particularly authoritative or powerful, I just happened to be there The same reason a lot of the kids were in school, to avoid the war >> You have to realize that if you were in the National Guard at that time and you got five unsats, five unsatisfactories, you were sent into active duty >> We all faced the fear of going to Vietnam >> If your hair was too long, if you were out of uniform, if you were late for a drill, you got an unsatisfactory >> It was that same choking fear as if you went to a doctor and he said, you have cancer >> You could get up to four unsatisfactories in one weekend because a drill was split into four different things You didn’t want to get that golden fifth one because you were out of here, and you were sent in active duty >> It was that same fear, and only the men had it because we were the only ones that were going >> They didn’t have to send you down for another 8, 10, 12 weeks of training >> They were only taking the 18, 19, 20 year olds They weren’t taking 30 year olds and they weren’t taking 15 year olds It was us >> It was on a plane and you were over there Don’t think that they didn’t threaten you with that, you knew that was the sword >> And without any kind of counseling, without any kind of softening of the blow >> I had a drug store in downtown Canton I was hard to argue with in those days I thought I knew it all I could sympathize with the young kids because I still thought I was a young kid, but I could identify with the government too I think the majority of business men were against the war They’d given it a chance you know, but I had better communication with the student, because in a drug store you get to meet everybody, and I’d rather talk to people than fill prescriptions

It was more interesting I used to argue politics with everybody who came along One guy would say, >> Are you a Democrat? >> Who said that? >> Well, are you a Republican? >> No, I’m just about to see your position and we’re gonna see who wins this argument But, I wore a black armband during the time and lost a lot of customers >> I was at the Venice Cafe one time when someone tried to burn a cigarette hole in my coat >> Do you think you’re better than I am because you go so school up on the hill? >> No I don’t But there was a great deal of jealousy and distress amongst students After all, we had a pretty easy life All we did was party and get laid, and we didn’t have to work too hard And we didn’t have to go to Vietnam >> The biology department was very conservative, very right-wing when I joined it In fact, when I interviewed for the job in 1967, I was clean shaven and was hired But when I arrived in the fall, I had a moustache [LAUGH] You should have seen the looks If they could have revoked my contract, I think they would have >> Out of around 20,000 students there were probably only about 1,000 black students on the campus We had our own personal concerns that we were dealing with that the white students weren’t concerned with Like trying to get more black teachers on the campus, and starting a black studies program These were our primary concerns at the time A lot of minorities, blacks and Hispanics had volunteered for the military Even I volunteered for the Marines before coming to Kent State The armed forces was a job opportunity for a lot of blacks But as Martin Luther King began to speak out, we all became aware that something was wrong with this war >> I think the country came as close to the Civil War between generations as you probably ever wanna see Because you had old versus young, fathers against sons, generation against generation Call it what you want, but Kent State brought to a boiling point, the feelings on both sides >> A lot of professors my age didn’t start out radicals at all >> So I become a campus radical in ’69 >> We started out wondering what was going on >> But I wasn’t a long-haired radical, and I wasn’t as radical as some people >> What the hell are we doing in Vietnam? We were very worried about the implications of getting mired down in something like that Particularly, because we had been brought up to believe that the US had never lost a war and had never been the aggressor It was very clear that that was never the truth in the first place >> I think it was Wordsworth who once said about the French Revolution, but it could be said about being young at Kent State Bliss it was to be alive, but to be young was very heaven >> What are we trying to accomplish over there? Why are we doing this, and what are doing to ourselves in the bargain? >> It’s a very heady experience being 20, 21, 22 years old in the campus of Kent State >> The day after my 21st birthday we led a demonstration in which we threatened to napalm a dog [NOISE] We were really young people, who were out to change the world, to take on this incredible responsibility, that, obviously, the older generation had absolved themselves of I wore a suit and tie just to throw people off, so we didn’t look radical The day before, we passed out flyers saying, for your edification and amusement, we’ll be napalming a dog on April 22nd, blah, blah, blah So about 3 or 400 students showed up to stop me from napalming this dog in front the Hub, the old student union I looked at the crowd and I explained what napalm was, and tried to be as dispassionate and scientific as I could I told the crowd that the US government had developed it at the end of World War II And it was such a powerful weapon in Vietnam, that it could burn people alive I will never forget the photograph of those three little Vietnamese children running down the road in 1972, with napalm burning on their backs If I remember nothing about Vietnam, it is that photograph that seared my mind, and of course, seared those children’s bodies beyond belief So I Iooked at the crowd and I said, how many of you have come to stop me from napalming this dog? And they shook their fists and growled >> [NOISE] >> And I said, how many of you are willing to take action against me to stop me from napalming this dog? And they shook their fists and growled >> [NOISE] >> And I said, good for you, you have done the right thing You have come to stop me from doing a very immoral act But your government isn’t doing this to just a dog, it’s doing it to thousands of people Just because they live far away doesn’t make it any less immoral Now, there was a deadly silence in the crowd And it was as if you could hear the anguished screams of the Vietnamese halfway around the world Now of course, there was never any napalm, and never any dog But one of the newspapers reported that they took the dog right out of my hands

This is how vivid people’s imaginations are It was amazing how people turned out to save a dog >> There was commotion in front of the music and speech building Some of the members for the Students for a Democratic Society were blocking the doors because there was a meeting going on over the suspension of students for something or other And then there was these great, big, burly football-type guys beating the living hell out of both guys and girls who were there demonstrating And after they were done beating these people up, they just stood there and sang the Star-Spangled Banner I didn’t sing the Star-Spangled Banner for about the next ten years, it was my way of protesting that >> I had a good rapport with the kids at the high school because I was young, in my second year of teaching I was standing outside the atrium doors during lunch hour when a small group of students began to gather A young man named Paul who wanted to bring a sort of activism to our school, had started to speak about the anti-war movement and why people should join in, why the Vietnam War was immoral and so forth Gradually, a different group shifted to the front These were the kids whose fathers and brothers were over in Vietnam And they seemed pretty upset by some of the things Paul was saying They had grim looks, so I moved closer and stood next to Paul They started to pick up these little tiny gravel stones and bounce them one by one off Paul’s chest They weren’t throwing them hard, just tossing them Ping, ping, and slowly moving closer There were maybe ten of them, and these were some big boys, many of them played football and they were good kids I mean, they weren’t otherwise violent kids, but you could see the rage coming over them I was the only teacher out there and the only thing I could think to do if they rushed him with to step in front I mean, there wasn’t much else I could do I thought, my God, what’s happening? They might really go at it and it may be more than just a fight! And then suddenly the bell rang and everything just went, poof, like a balloon collapsing They all just stopped and went to class, even Paul stopped speaking I thought, thank God for Pavlov They were conditioned to the bell, and hearing the bell, they simply stopped and went to class I know I earned my pay that day >> May 1st, 1970, I was downtown in Walder’s Bar drinking Rolling Rock and riding a warm, spring Ohio night Nixon had escalated the Vietnam War with the bombing of Cambodia, we all felt betrayed Around 11 o’clock, after an NBA finals game on TV, the bars swelled over into the street blocking traffic Someone dumped a trash container and lit a bonfire on the center line, then another The horses of instruction were in the barn The tigers of wrath were teaching us their wisdom It was crazy spring time in a country still young Blood surge, hot youth, they protest against every tight bung hole, against every official hand turning the screws on freedom It was one, two, three, four, we don’t want your [BLEEP] war just like they told you, only louder, and everybody meant it [MUSIC] >> There was a spontaneous party at Glenmore’s apartments It was a beautiful warm day, people came outside >> We were in Moulton Hall watching Nixon on TV when our RA counselor announced to us that anyone who didn’t have the proper grades, a one in classification, would be gone in three weeks to Vietnam >> Passions were running high, fueled by the good weather >> Well, after Woodstock and all that we went through in the late 60s, this was just not going to work >> We all came out and passed around jugs of wine, the boys were saying- >> Hey what the hell? We’re all gonna be cannon fodder here >> [LAUGH] >> My definite feeling was that we’re not going, and something drastic had to be done >> I felt so grateful that I wasn’t a guy, so grateful I had no brothers >> My girlfriend and I walked past the ROTC building We both stopped mid step and looked at each other, you felt that too? >> Yeah >> It was just this strange cold feeling, wasn’t like a physical cold

I can’t forget that, we were right beside the building that within 24 hours, would be burned >> From my perspective, it was drinking beer and looking for guys >> Yeah >> [LAUGH] That’s what it was about It had been a really long, cold, dark winter And that weekend was the first weekend of real spring that year So people were down at the bars, down on Water Street, and were just in one of those youthful, hormonal party places >> [LAUGH] >> I was there with a girlfriend, and we had decided we were going downtown to find her a boyfriend She had been lonely too long [SOUND] But when the streets were blocked off, some people began to throw rocks and break windows I wasn’t in favor of the war, but I didn’t see why the people who owned the shoe store and the butchers had anything to do with the cause for the wars [MUSIC] I saw an elderly couple in their car The light had turned red and they were stopped in traffic surrounded by students Some guy started to rock the car, the couple was scared They locked their doors and rolled up their windows I think people were feeling their oats, but it went from there >> My connection to the university was really limited My sister had gone there but it was on the other side of town, so Kent, to me, was my school and friends And the university is what broke the windows on my dad’s store >> I went downtown on Saturday morning to see what had happened And I walked over to the big city bank on Water Street I had always looked at its big pillars and believed that they were made out of stone, like marble But they had been gouged, and I saw they were just chicken wire and plaster I never realized that these pillars could be anything but solid I felt like my whole town was just a staged set, all surface and fragile >> Saturday evening, a number of us walked over to the commons People were just milling around, there was nothing organized One student walked up to the old ROTC building and broke out the glass Took out his lighter and started lighting the curtains >> As we approached the campus from Route 76, we had the top down on the jeep And you could see the glow of the fire from the ROTC building >> And then I saw a couple of others break some more glass And the amazing thing I noticed was there were police officers at the top of the hill by the Student Union They were just sitting there, watching >> My God, the whole town is burning It was literally an orange glow in the sky >> I was seven years old and I lived on Willow Street I remember the helicopters at night and my dad taking me downtown to see all of the businesses and all of the windows smashed out in all the buildings >> A helicopter for Governor Roves landed on our playground at the university school, it was both exciting and frightening >> I didn’t really know much about what was going on, but I still saw it And the one thing that sticks out in my mind were the tanks on our playground and the soldiers sleeping in the gymnasium And how a tank bumped into our jungle gym and made it crooked >> I was torn between being a child and being an adult, being afraid and picking up on my parents’ fears and wanting to be up there with the big kids >> That’s the one thing that sticks out in my mind >> We were put up in an elementary school gymnasium, sleeping on the floor At best, they were horrible conditions because the lights were always on and we constantly had troops coming and going, and we got little if any sleep Sunday morning I called my fiance, and I said, I want some real food Can you bring me a real meal? She said, sure So there I was, standing on Mogadore Road in my uniform, with a helmet and an M1 And when I saw her coming down Cherry Street, I waved And three or four cars pulled off the road People got out of their cars and put their hands up And I said no, no, and just motioned everyone to go on through Now this was around 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning, and one couple said, we’re just going to church And then it hit me, that here was a town under siege, just like we had seen in the movies our whole life My first thought was, my God, here I am, a 20-some year old kid with a gun and people are pulling off the streets for me >> When we got home from mass, we turned on the radio in the living room and we all sat and listened to Governor Rhodes make his statements

He was in town with the Mayor I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of, no [BLEEP] students are gonna close down a campus under my watch in my state, kind of a thing I remember sitting there thinking, why not? This is all kind of crazy to me >> We were actually told that we were gonna stop the crowd from going downtown I knew some of the businessmen in that town and to this day I think it’s just as well because, believe me, the businessmen were better armed than we were There were people sitting on rooftops and, had the crowd gone downtown to trash it again, there would have been gunfire It was just that simple It was like saving somebody from themselves >> My mother called me on Sunday and said- >> You need to come home >> Why? >> Well, you have people with guns on your campus, you need to come home >> Well, we’ve got class tomorrow, Mom I can’t come home, we’ve got class >> The entire town was under martial law >> There were bomb threats in the public schools >> You weren’t even allowed out of your porch after 5 o’clock >> And we had rumors that there were machine guns in some location near Brady Lake, and that there were snipers >> You had these helicopters buzzing all over town and National Guardsmen >> And that they were going to poison the water supply at Kent >> We stopped at a stop sign and some students came out on their porch and started throwing things at us One of our guys got out of the jeep, pointed his rifle at the students and said- >> Who wants to be first? >> And they dispersed and went back into the crowd We went two blocks further, and a gray-haired old lady came out on her porch with a plate full of cookies and said- >> Here guys, here are some home made cookies for you >> So you could go a matter of a 100 feet from people throwing things at you, and calling you names, and giving you the finger, to a nice old lady coming out and offering you cookies >> I actually talked to a young Guardsman, he was very nonchalant and said that he really didn’t wanna be here, it didn’t mean a whole lot to him He just had to come up here because it was his job And then he pointed over to an older man, a small ruggedly built older man with the side arm on his belt and said- >> Yeah, but that guy over there, he really gets into this stuff, he really means business >> It seemed like it was us versus them In the paranoia of those precarious days, no one could see a peaceful resolution >> Cambodia was crazy, Nixon was crazy, we thought the whole country was crazy And in return, the Governor and the police thought the students were both crazy and uncontrollable >> After the sun went down I heard things happening, and then helicopters began circling overhead They had a certain frequency, a vibration that I can pick up in an instant, at great distance and right away >> Hey boys, looking for a good time? >> [NOISE] >> At Tri Towers, we saw a woman standing naked against the window on the third floor >> Hey, sailor, looking for a good time? >> [NOISE] >> The room was dark behind her, but she had a light on >> Come on, take those uniforms off and get rid of those guns, and I can show you a good time >> We all laughed and hooted and our Captain had to keep us in line >> Sunday night, our Captain said- >> We’re gonna look mean and green This is the big time, we’re gonna march in cadence >> We had helicopters in the sky with a lot of radio traffic, a lot of bull horns, and a lot of confusion I think at that time, things just sort of clicked, and we all sort of said, we’re in the military now We gotta do what we gotta do And so, we marched down and formed a perimeter around the ROTC building that was still smoldering in ashes And then an officer came along and said to us- >> When the order is given to lock and load- >> Which in Army lingo means to take the ammunition out of your belt to put it into your weapon, you lock it and you put it on safe >> You are to lock and load, but you are not- >> And he made it very clear, almost to each of us there, going down the line >> You are not, under circumstances, to fire unless you are given the order >> We all checked, we had a clip of eight rounds with us We stood there for a while, it got dark >> A lot of thoughts ran through my mind If we’re told to lock and load, are we going to fire? Are we going to protect our lives or are we going to run? When the gas was laid down, we started moving and you could see the group that was there, for just the part, it quickly dispersed They were out of there It was at that point that I again saw those students let go of the rocks And men waving their genitals at us, and women shouting obscenities Now I was no virgin, and I was used to a lot of things, but I took one look at this and said this gives me a whole different point of view of what’s happening here >> Then it got ugly We had bayonets and they didn’t Things came flying out of the air, we were yelled at, we were given the finger It was dark, and there was a lot of high intensity lights, and helicopters buzzing overhead We came around the building and cornered a small group of students We weren’t chasing them, but it was the same group that had been loud and mouthy before And now, they were begging and pleading >> Don’t hurt us, please, we didn’t mean any harm >> One of the females got hysterical, was yelling at the guy next to her >> I told you we shouldn’t be here, now what’s gonna happen to us? >> We had masks on, we were anonymous

We had taken the name tags off our jackets A fellow down from me put a bayonet to a man’s nose and said- >> I know your face but you don’t know mine If I ever see you again this is gonna go right in your head >> I think the man urinated himself right there on the spot He had nowhere to go, nowhere to run He was up against the wall with his hands up, and one of our guys ran his bayonet through his hand Pinned it right up against the building Another individual was slashed >> The whole thing didn’t take 30 seconds It seemed like a flash in time And then the guy who did the stabbing put his bayonet into the ground and pulled it out He did this a couple times, pointing at it, to see if there was any blood still on it >> We were told in no uncertain terms that we were not to run, we were not to fold We were there to preserve the peace [NOISE] >> May 4th, a clear warm spring day, everything in blossom It must have been just afternoon when I watched a squad of National Guardsmen kneel lock and load in front of Satterfield Hall It never occured to me, nor to anyone else I talked to that day, that the Guard carried live steel-jacketed ammunition We did not think of ourselves as the enemy Dissidents, but not enemy Believing the Guard to be on a peacekeeping mission, a civil action against an unarmed citizenry >> I stood up at my Abnormal Psychology class at 11 o’clock on Monday morning, and said I thought it was strange that the instructor was beginning to hold class without referencing the fact there was a National Guard member standing at our doorway, holding an M1 I thought that there should be some discussion and frankly if there wasn’t I didn’t think it was worth staying So I urged everyone in my class to come to the rally at noon in defiance of the order not to gather I mentioned the importance of our right to assemble And I left that class with my Abnormal Psychology book in my hand and went to the rally [SOUND] >> That was the way of the rally But at the same time, the black united students had encouraged us to stay away from the rally because they felt that if there was any kind of trouble, we would most likely be the first one’s targeted As far as we were concerned, the national guardsmen were the police And because we’d been subject to so much abuse and harassment by the police, I had no allusion that these guys had blanks or pellets in their rifles We all assumed they had real bullets, and we would be the first ones to be shot [NOISE] >> I stepped away from the crowd when I heard that they were reading the riot act There were a lot of innocent people there that had no idea the riot act was being read Having been in the military, I had a grasp of military thinking and frankly didn’t trust them I new the National Guard was edgy and had a reason to blow their cool They were coming from at least two weeks of unwanted National Guard duty dealing with the trucker’s strike in which there were real snipers using real bullets shooting from real guns from overpasses at independent truckers This was a setup for tragedy [SOUND] >> I saw people playing tennis on the courts behind Terrace Hall So much that day was just surreal, there were so many normal things going on [SOUND] >> The army itself was the symbol of what everyone was angry about and here was our own military, kneeling and aiming life of not just a protesters and rock throwers, but a dormitory full of big glass windows filled with students So you had these two groups facing off across the commons By this time I think the anger on the part of the students was not Vietnam or Cambodia >> But this is my home [SOUND] >> Suddenly, they turned and started firing >> I didn’t have my glasses on, I couldn’t see very well through my gas mask >> I saw people hitting the dirt So I think that you are thinking okay okay >> The men in front of me were aiming the rifles >> The bullets wisked past my ears >> God someone else is shooting Did I miss an order? >> This is not what it sounds like on TV This is not what bullets sound like from cartoons >> I didn’t know where to shoot or what to shoot or if I should shoot >> It was a very different sound A very different sound >> It went on and on for what felt like eternity [SOUND]

>> Very quickly I heard your order >> Ceasefire, ceasefire! >> After the shooting, it got totally quiet I just heard air hissing out of a tire That sound [SOUND] >> I looked around and it was as if time has stopped Time had totally stopped Now subsequently, I figured out what it was When people die violently, a veil is rent and you’re thrust into the next plane and anyone who’s tuned to this event can feel this rush from a door opening So the veil is rent, torn away and any kind of evil thoughts that are there from humanity’s beginning are available at this moment And depending on how sensitive you are, you hear it, feel it, or see it >> And then there were screams [SOUND] >> I didn’t know if the whole campus had turned into a battleground I didn’t know just what was going to happen next A couple of us thought they’ve already killed people, what’s to say they’re not just gonna come in the building and start shooting? We were standing around trying to decide what to do We were in the office with floor to ceiling windows And I said this is not the place to be So we went into the dark room next door and I said if the shooter’s here, they have to shoot through two cinder block walls to get to us There’s an air vent and I thought my God they’ll throw tear gas in here We need to close off that vent So we got something and we taped it over the vent We made a bunker out of the dark room >> And then those guardsmen moved right passed us They moved within 10 feet I could have touched one of them Everyone was frozen, and I could hear the stomping of their boots, and then I heard this, [SOUND] like the gnashing of teeth unhuman kind of sound The veil was rent >> And then the strangest thing happened Maybe 1000 of us went to the other side of Taylor Hall, where the victory bell was, and we formed a semicircle across from the guard >> 10 or 20 guys stripped down to their waste and put Xs on their chests, backs, and foreheads They were going to battle the guards men >> After seeing our classmates shot we got mad We got really angry >> We were all gone, it was freak-ville There wasn’t any rational thought now It was full fledged rioting >> I mean you felt like you were invincible because you were so furious at what had happened >> Our fear had dispersed and we were ready to take on these people that had guns with nothing but our bodies >> To this day I am convinced that the guard would have fired on more of us, and more of us would have been killed if it had not been for Glen Frank He was a popular professor who taught geology in a large setting He stood out there in a white short sleeved shirt with a pocket protector with a grad student They both had bull horns and pleaded with us for calm and restraint And gradually, people began to listen We all sat down on the hill and someone passed out popsicles, bubble stick popsicles, because in those years, people shared with each other And when people had calmed down, he convinced us to go home >> I’m certain he saved a lot of people that day >> Quite frankly, had their not been our own soldiers that pardoned me, had I been in a different group, I could speak for myself I would have >> I wish you could put yourself in the mindset of the guardsmen pulling the trigger For whatever reason, God someone else is shooting Did I miss an order? I’m gonna do this I’ve lost control I’ve gained control I have total control >> I would have assumed that when others were firing they were firing for a reason I would’ve fired >> Put yourself in the mind set of the four or five days that led up to that on both sides One of our friends had ducked behind the same cars Allison Carlson had seen her dad in Another one of our friends had ducked behind a tree that had a bullet hole chest height when he came back out I didn’t know bullet holes could go through cars That’s how naive I was, or trees, lethally go through a tree Til this day, I’ll tell you that May 4th is like Passover for me, because everyone I loved survived >> I had a grammar class that started at 1:10 in Satterfield, and I decided if I left music and speech, and cut across the Commons, I might be able to get to class early enough to cram for my mid term exam

I walked across the Prentice Hall parking lot and saw tremendous amounts of blood The ambulances were already leaving and there was blood everywhere It looked like little rivulets of blood, puddles of blood, the whole parking lot I couldn’t figure out what was happening or why it had happened There were people everywhere crying and holding hands and hugging each other But still, I didn’t know why, because I kept thinking of what my professor had said in speech class about the tear gas I was convinced, for some crazy reason, that this was just tear gas I had no clue where the blood was from I had no clue where the ambulances were going, or why there so many of them, why they were so loud and moving so fast, why people were crying so hard and hugging each other So I kept walking, I didn’t stop and talk to anyone I had a one-track mind, I had to get to Satterfield It was almost like my body was being pulled, I had no control of it I stopped nowhere, talked to no one and just kept walking When I got to Satterfield, I sat down at my desk and I began to cram for my test At 1:10, I looked around for my professor and the rest of my class but they weren’t there No one was where they were supposed to be I couldn’t figure out what was happening And then someone came up to me, I don’t remember who it was, and he said there’s been a problem on campus you know People have been shot You better go back to your dorm So I walked all the way back to my dorm in Humphrey, which was far away from everything, and luckily the girl that live across the hall from me offered me a ride home to Cleveland When we arrived, my mother was standing in the driveway crying, waiting for me, thinking I was one of the dead people at Kent My neighbors was standing on their front lawns and when they saw me get out of the car, everybody came up to me to touch me and said how glad they were to see me And my mother just kept crying but, I didn’t cry at all >> Three are dead, 12 shot in battle at Kent State >> Three dead, 15 wounded in rioting at KSU >> Four students killed in anti-Nixon riot, death of a campus bum >> National guardsman among those killed at Kent State >> Kent protestors reported killed >> Three national guardsmen killed at Kent State All day I watched as my mother stood and looked out the living room window I didn’t really know much about what was going on but I could tell from the line in her back and the tension in her neck, there was something really wrong >> When my mother heard the news, she went bananas She couldn’t get through because they shut the phone lines down in Kent >> All the phone lines were shut down There was no way we can get through to the campus to find out where my two sisters and brother might be >> So my mother and father loaded up the car to come out here, but I was able to get a phone and call out and I got ahold of Pittsburg and said I’m fine, I’m alive, I can’t talk, and hung up >> A fellow student at DV Junior High started screaming because her mom and dad were on campus School was closed immediately and we were herded on buses >> They simply announced over the loud speaker at the high school, you will go home, you will not deter from your path You will go straight home and you will stay home >> A very large man with a baseball bat came onboard our bus to protect us, as everyone had the immediate fear of the unknown We did not know then how many were shot, nor who was shot Our buses dropped us off on our corners and waited until each student was inside his home We were told to stay indoors >> I lived on West Main Street, right at the Kent city limits And as I got to my driveway, there were two military vehicles parked on the top of the hill on Route 59, blockading the road Nothing was coming into Kent, it was completely shut off >> One family in our neighborhood packed up everybody in the car and left They were terrified that great vast hordes of radicals were going to come and invade, perhaps right on their front lawn >> We sat at our front porch and watched the pilgrimage, if that’s what you would call it All those people leaving the city, many of them walking There was a look of astonishment on their faces I don’t know what the real word would be, but there was a void in their eyes I can’t get over the hollow look in people’s eyes >> I had the radio in my car tuned to some news reports as I was driving away from town And the announcer said, okay, we’ll be right back after some quick music and

we’ll tell you some more about what’s happening at Kent State It was that song, Everything is Beautiful by Ray Stevens I had just come off campus with everything that I had seen I saw a dead student in the street I saw other people being carted away into ambulances I saw the blood and the gore, and I’m sitting in the car, listening to this song >> I raced to the hospital, flashing my critical patient pass to the guards who were stationed on Route 59 My father was dying in the intensive care unit at Robinson Memorial Hospital on that day He had checked in with gallstones a month earlier that turned out to be pancreatitis My mother had been practically living at the hospital, sleeping on the couch outside the ICU and going in every couple of hours to hold his hand He had become nothing but skin and bones We knew there was no way to save him My father had been for the war and my mom had been against it, but suddenly it didn’t matter anymore with dad dying and mom by his side When I got there, my mom was already downstairs and she told me he was gone I asked her how it happened and she said, you won’t believe it She told me that when the ambulances had arrived from the campus, she had heard the noise and commotion and saw all the young people wheeled into the ICU She said the doctors and nurses were crying And one doctor went over and held up an X-ray to another and said look where this bullet is lodged in this boy’s spine He’s never going to walk again In all my years of medicine, this is the most senseless thing I’ve ever seen So my mother turned and walked to the window and said, Lord, Nick has had 55 good years, and all this time I’ve been praying that you would spare him But how can I ask for that when these kids haven’t even had 20 years? >From now on it’s whatever you want She turned around walked back into the ICU and he was dead So my father died on May 4th, 1970 I’ve often thought about this and wondered if the student who was paralyzed, Dean Kahler, ever knew that my mother was there in the hospital on that day And how those doctors wept when they saw the bullet in his spine And how those doctors and nurses were shocked and stunned and mortified at the waste A senseless waste >> Jeff Miller, who was a student of my friend Mike Was shot in the mouth at a distance of several hundred yards That night, I sat with Mike out in his yard out at the Allerton Apartments in the rain as he drank and wept I drank with him, but couldn’t find tears, I held him, he would not be consoled As far as I know Mike still isn’t consoled Something broke off inside him like a city block size chunk that shivers loose from one of those Antarctic ice caps and begins to wander the cold seas Something in Mike broke loose and drifts inside him to this day >> I needed to get away So, I drove up to Virginia Kendall park It was a pretty day, and I started walking on the trails in the woods I was walking along and stepping on rocks when I got this weird sensation that these were just like the ones I saw thrown It was a weird sensation But I couldn’t touch the rocks, and I hated walking on them, they just felt bad But I kept walking and there was a ravine off to the side, and some fog and mist coming up from the water down Caught it out of the corner of my eye, and I thought, my god

Why are they shooting tear gas here? I knew this was stupid It was mist It was fog, and these were rocks So I walked on a bit further, and a tree limb cracked behind me [SOUND] Sounded exactly like the bolt action of a rifle [SOUND] So I jumped back, and I yelled, and I hot footed it out of there It was like this whole thing was closing in on me I went to my professor And told him I missed a test >> So why did you miss the test? >> I was in the national guard I was on active duty >> Were you on this campus too? >> Yeah >> You will never pass this course >> You will never graduate from this university, if I have anything to do with it You have failed this course, and as far as I’m concerned you shouldn’t be permitted back on this campus >> And he asked me to leave his office >> I had a bad experience that summer when a group from the BBC came to interview me They invited the students who had been on campus and tried to make some sort of physical confrontation between me and this students They put him real close to me to taunt me and said >> Why don’t you do something now that you two are alone? >> I got up to leave the room and he leaned back and said- >> God, don’t hit me please >> I wasn’t going to So I started to leave, and the BBC man followed me out of the hotel >> You signed a contract You will never get a check from us >> That’s the least of my worries >> I applied for a summer camping job in Napoleon, and I fill out the form, the woman said I was a student at Kent State >> Are you a communist? >> To me it was an absurd question, but she was asking me very seriously When I got back to school that fall I found out a lot of people were asked, if we were communists >> At a family reunion one of my relatives was really angry with me, because she thought I went to Ohio State, and there had been some disturbances at Ohio State So I just listened >> And then my helpful brother came up and said she doesn’t go to Ohio State, she goes to Kent State >> If I’d been there I would have shot them all >> So, I took a bus to Columbus, to arrest Governor Rhodes for criminal misconduct Yeah, I know it was kind of nuts People don’t usually do those kinds of things, but I went into his office and this lady said, may I help you? And I said I am here to make a citizens arrest of Governor Rhodes in regards to the Kent State shootings of two days ago And she gave me this look that I’m not sure I could ever put into words It’s a wonder she didn’t have a heart attack, and I felt guilty about it, really because people are creatures of habit And I’m sure she never anticipated this to be a part of her daily activities So this gentleman with a suit came out I think he was the chief of security, and he explained to me that you can only make a citizens arrest if you observe a felony He said even though there are people who might question Governor Rhodes’ handling or mishandling of this incident depending on their perspectives, this wasn’t one of those situations He said for example, you cannot make a citizens arrest of President Nixon and accuse him of being a war criminal Our society just isn’t set up like that Even though people of an idealistic bent might think it is But he said he really respected the fact that I cared enough to put myself out there Most people would, and that was kind of the thrust of our whole conversation, and he was the most cordial, likable person that you’d ever want to meet He had really good people skills We talked for a long time maybe an hour or so, and when we had finished, he said you understand now why you cannot make a citizens arrest of the governor, and I said I do and thanked him and left Feeling that somehow I had intruded on his time >> While most of us were trying to put our lives back together, a notice went around for some people to join a choral presentation of the Cherubini Requiem Some members of the Cleveland Orchestra came down to the United Church of Christ in Canton joined with some local folks I don’t have a very good voice, but I enjoy choral singing a lot, and I had been involved in chorus’ before in college But my neighbor has an excellent voice, and so she and I agreed to go together, and she allowed me to stand next to her, so I could be sure to hit the right notes We went to all the rehearsals together, and I have such a vivid memory of that performance We had to unbuckle all the pews to make room for everyone We filled up all the pews and all the balcony, and I’ve never had such a high I think, in doing anything else And the most exhilarating part of it all was the very end, when it trails off into a pianissimo, became very quiet and nobody applauded

There was a complete silence in the church, and then gradually people began to stand up, while we just stood there And I felt like the whole inside of me was screaming >> There was a knock on the door [NOISE] And two guys in suits who said they were FBI agents wanted to interview Matthew Irwin, and my mom said >> I think you’re looking for the wrong guy I think you want Mike Irwin >> And one of the agents said? >> Ma’am, we want Mathew Irwin >> Are you sure you want Mathew, because Mike is my eldest son, and I think that’s who you want to talk to >> And the guy got real snippy with her and said >> Lady, we want to talk to Mathew Irwin >> Well Matt was my youngest brother He was six years old and he had been particularly bratty that day So my mom grabbed him and pushed him out the door with the FBI agents, and slammed the door A couple seconds later, we heard a knock [NOISE] >> Ma’am, this is not who we wanna talk to >> You asked to speak with Matthew Irwin, you’ll speak with Matthew Irwin >> Mom! >> You like to think this is America and people don’t disappear, but I didn’t know what would have happened if I said I wouldn’t go with them So, I went And they showed me picture after picture after picture And after the first ten minutes, I realized they had no intention of figuring out what had happened >> I think their way of investigating was a kind of who are you with syndrome They’d interview someone in Cleveland and say- >> Except for anyone you know in Cleveland, who were you with? >> Well, I was with Art from Philadelphia >> They just wanted to identify people, and pin things on people >> And so, they were at his door step, and the last statement the FBI agent would make was- >> Except for anyone you know in Cleveland, who were you with? >> I was with my roommate Steve from Connecticut >> And it became real apparent that no one in a position of authority gave a hoot about what happened and the underlying causes They just wanted to find people to blame it on >> And then they were at his doorstep So that’s how they pyramided the investigation >> I couldn’t drive through my hometown without the local police stopping me >> Your tail light’s out >> [LAUGH] >> I guess it’s fine now, but it was out when I stopped you >> One night, I was driving through town with my best friend who worked for the police department and did towing for them And one of the policemen looked down and saw that she was in the car and said- >> You know, you really need to pick your friends better >> We had people knocking on our door, wanting to rent our garage, supposedly, because they had been thrown out of their apartments They looked more hippie than any hippie you ever saw They had these awful sort of ban the bomb type nuclear disarmament symbols with really ugly shirts and things I thought, sure, they were definitely FBI and wouldn’t let them in One of the guys tried to get in the door like- >> Hey >> Man [LAUGH] >> Acting really friendly with me like he was just one of my group of people It was really bizarre Everyone was so caught up with the mania I mean he could have planted a bomb Who knows what he could have done? We felt like we were being watched and dissected Everyone was trying to find out about some conspiracy >> Of course, because I’ve been so cooperative with the investigation, when subpoenas went out for the grand jury, I got one And my father went down to the Portage County Courthouse with me I’d gotten a haircut and was wearing a sports coat and tie to play the game One of the court officials put us in a waiting room, and after a while I needed to use the facilities So I asked this guy right outside the door if I could use the bathroom And as loud as he could, he hollered >> What’s the matter, hippie, need to take a bath? Hey, this one needs to take a bath >> I kept having this naive hope that people really wanted to find out what happened But when I got up to the grand jury room itself and got up on the stand, I was asked question for about 15 minutes or so And I would show them where I was on the map and all that stuff, but those were just the preliminaries I didn’t realize they could turn the jury loose on the witness There were probably half a dozen people who actually stood up and yelled at me, and lectured me about what I >> Should have done >> And >> How unpatriotic >> I was >> So I got a phone call on Friday night A man identified himself as executive from the Portage County Sheriff’s

>> I cannot tell you why I am calling you, but if you would like to take a guess, I can say yes or no >> I’ve been indicted >> Yes >> The special prosecutor said- >> They should have shot all the troublemakers >> And this is the prosecutor for a supposedly unbiased and objective grand jury The Attorney General said- >> Probably no guardsmen will be indicted >> So they were setting the stage for a whitewash And the University was admonished for allowing the Jefferson Airplane to play at homecoming, for students going barefoot, and professors not saluting the flag I mean, it was absolutely absurd And in the grand jury report, they never mentioned that four students were killed They exonerated the National Guard and they indicted 25 students and teachers, including two of the wounded students The morbid joke was that they were guilty of getting in the way of the bullets >> At sunset on May the fourth, I left Kent and headed back to my home in Illinois The National Guard had sealed off Kent I drove up to one of the check points across Route 43, just south of the 261 intersection A young, Illinois guardsman checked my driver’s license, took down the information on a clipboard, and set aside the barricade I was a shaggy, bearded fellow back then, and as my wife and I drove through, the National Guard officer, a lieutenant, gave us the finger, smacking his elbow in his cupped hands I am his other and he is mine The Greek root for the word compassion means to feel the viscera of the other And if there is to peace, I must feel his viscera, he must feel mine I don’t know of another way >> We were really pissed, but we didn’t know what to do with that anger There was nobody in those days to counsel us The guys coming home from Vietnam, nobody counseled them And so, they turned into drug addicts and murderers and killed themselves in cars You’re a man, take it like a man Well, that’s just crap Nobody came out of the woodwork to help us, nobody >> So I got invited into Kent 25 And this was about as traumatic for me as of May fourth tragedy was itself >> We didn’t really ever talk about it, hardly even among our friends >> Because I was a 21-year-old man, and suddenly, the lights of repression were shining on me >> And to this day, it’s still amazing to me that in all of the company of the guards, and there’s 40 to 50 people in the company, nobody knew anybody involved in the shooting >> God knows why I was indicted, except for the fact that my dog, napalming the demonstration, put the focus on me Otherwise, I was one of 2,000 other students on the commons that day >> So the people that were involved really clammed up and no one’s ever talked to us about it >> Not only did 58,000 Americans die in Vietnam, but we killed 2 million of them Never mentioned, really >> I think a whole lot of people knew what was going on >> 2 million We visited 40 times as many deaths upon the Vietnamese and Cambodians as they visited upon us >> And they were going to make an example out of Kent State And where better than a middle class, basically White school with kids who weren’t too rich where the parents couldn’t possibly be a threat to the government? >> And did we, as kids, had enough sanity to have compassion for the Vietnamese? I mean, we could have been at a frat party drinking beer instead, we didn’t have to protest, right? >> It was different than Jackson State Look at the small amount of publicity they got because they were a small black Southern institution Whereas we were a large white middle class Mid-West institution that was fairly well known So it was like the ideal place for the government to make an example of the student protest and anti-war movement We’re gonna put these kids down literally, and they’re never gonna get back up again And this anti-war movement is going to be ended once and for all It makes so much sense to me >> I don’t consider myself to be very spiritual Sometimes, through the years, I feel like my spirit went back toward the seed and not toward the flower >> When I look at films or pictures of the ROTC building burning and collapsing, it’s as if it were a part of hell, a portal And all that is associated with hell manifested itself there, and fed upon the souls of the guard, and upon the souls of the students,

and on the townspeople and officials >> So my life has lead a stand ever since I just pretty much kept to myself and left school and pretty much dropped out of society and went and lived in the mountains of Colorado It’s kind of set me on a search >> I couldn’t talk about it >> All the kind of searching for truth, and justice, and freedom, and those other 60s values >> It wasn’t until years after that I ever really mentioned to anyone that I had thrown a rock on that day Not that I hadn’t already started on my way to becoming an alcoholic But I did nothing but drink for ten years >> Kent State wasn’t just Kent State, it was a symbol for everything, and it was indicative of everything at that time And as they said, that was the day that the war came home >> I’ve come back to so many May 4th commemorations, and it’s pretty strange >> At first, the town seems oddly familiar although strange too >> I wrote in last night, it’s like meeting an old girlfriend you haven’t seen for a while >> I’m never able to stop talking about it I was on campus for the 30th anniversary, and I’m sure I saw people there that I hadn’t seen since the morning of May 4th >> I saw a trio of cute female students laughing and planning to get into trouble apparently >> It was wild to see so many grown men, lots of gray beards around, just openly weeping at what we had gone through >> They were young, and they whirred out the parking lot with no need of morbid ceremonies for the famous dead >> And you can tell by talking to some of these people that they’ve held it in all these years and never let it out before >> These kids are the future, they represent life I wonder what, if anything, May 4th means to them >> You have to tell the truth, and I’m not sure the truth has been told That there were repressive elements, that there were radical students There were confused 18-year-olds There were lots of troops >> The last time I came to the candlelight vigil, I stood next to the marker where Jeffrey Miller’s body had lain His parents stood inside that marker They were so dignified, and it struck me, they were getting older, but their son would always be 19 >> So what do we have now? We have this past that’s painful But we have this future that could be bright My job, and it’s the only job I have, is to make sure the future is bright That optimism prevails My whole existence now is about helping people through the veil, cuz I know it exists And when I’m present at people’s deaths, I sit at their bedsides and whisper instructions on how to get through the veil Cuz everybody dies, no one escapes that one, no one But, we have no counselors, we have no philosophers, we have no one on this side of America saying, wow, it’s not just about being 20 or 30, through youth It’s about living, and getting older, and when you’re older supposedly having wisdom So the goal is a positive spiraling motion, forward, forward, forward >> 40 years later, spring comes again I live on the other side of the Cuyahoga River now in a small house on a dead end street I haven’t gotten very far This afternoon my daughter Megan cut the grass I weeded the flower bed Maintenance, provisional orders A wooden fence marks where our property ends and the neighbor’s begins Everything is in its place I offer not a consolation but an understanding, I know they are not the same The Buddhists tell us we all have three hearts linked one to the other, like Christmas lights in a series First is the heart of compassion, then the heart of love, finally the heart of wisdom They open in that order and no other Compassion, that heart once opened prompts the opening of the heart of love, and

that in turn signals the opening of the heart of wisdom What is not love, is fear Meet your rage on the threshing floor of the first heart No other way, that simple Feel that, start there Tomorrow, I’ll find my way up to the commons again to hear the ringing of the bell to commemorate the dead and the wounded The bell is a voice, everything in Kent is in blossom again Every blossom is listening [MUSIC] >> To learn more about how this program was made, stay tuned for interviews with the creators of the play and cast members May 4th Voices is now available as a book and a DVD, along with the companion teacher’s resource guide through the Kent State University Press For more information, call 1-800-247-6553 or visit kentstateuniversitypress.com >> It happened in a fog on a very clear and beautiful weekend It happened in a fog >> The idea for May 4th Voices came about in 2009, when Laura Davis told me about the newly archived, digitized and archived oral histories of the Kent State shootings It’s a project that Sandy Hallen began in 1990 >> There were other people who He experience what i had experienced who could articulate clearly and powerfully and let others know that truth of what it had happened >> When we begin to work on this play, one good things that really lit up for me, and I was so glad about was that it brought to the forefront how confused everything was >> Carol Barbado and I found ourselves in a position where we could coordinate the gathering of voices >> There are about 1,200 pages worth of fully transcribed interviews that I read through I felt that for the first time I was hearing the voices of May 4th listening and responding to each other >> The time was right to record that history in such a way that it would be available to the public and also beyond understandable to the public And give people an opportunity to reflect on what the meaning of that event is for today >> And I woke up one morning and remembered a prose poem by Maj Regan who teaches here at Ken State is a dear friend of mine A wonderful poet >> May 4th, a memory is based on my being there, being here >> Because he was here in 1970 and his sort of poetic voice, his sensibility very fittingly lifts, I feel lifts the play up to a level that it wouldn’t have, couldn’t have gotten to otherwise so >> This play brings together in a couple of hours the tremendous confusion, and the push, and the shove, and the yank, and the And I was there, and I had no, no one knew No one person knew what was going on Is very much like the old threshing floors on which the grain was separated from the chaff, that’s what we do through art That’s what we do through theater and poetry >> And devising theater encompasses an infinite number of techniques to create what eventually appears before an audience >> It’s a very hard, complicated process where you have to go in and create something from nothing You’re basically given nothing when you do a devised piece because the scripts that you get are really incomplete and not But I think that the incompleteness is a creative choice to let the actors really mold their own show around the work of the author >> I was able to put my own movement into the ideas that I thought that the script was provoking I was able to help the other actors and we all got to work together

to compose things like the chairs moving when Meredith walks across the chairs >> And it’s very physically involved and I’m not a very physically involved person >> We would kinda do our own directing and our own placing of all of our actors And we’re gonna make our own scenes, and I was just like, my gosh, what did I get myself into? >> And we spent a bunch of time just playing with stuff and we made a mess >> The last time I was asked to play with objects was when I was really little So it was kind of a rediscovery of how to do that at all even >> We took fabric and we played with it and we ripped it up and we took newspaper and we played with it and ripped it up And we took the chairs and we stacked them on top of each other >> The important thing about devised theater is that it really brings the cast together and it takes awhile for people to get used to the idea that they’re allowed to just shout things out whenever they want to >> Anybody could stop the process at any given time and say no, this isn’t working or I have a great idea >> You have to be okay with taking risks that you’re not used to and doing things that don’t feel right in your body >> All developed so organically and everybody was agreeable to it >> One day I was reading through the script and I just heard notes and I heard voices And I recorded it and I got all the parts out on the piano, and Meagan Eishen was kind enough to make it into sheet music And Katherine changed the key, which I think actually really helped She lowered it, so that all the richness that I had heard could come through >> What part do you play in the show? And I was like I play a student here but then I also play a guardsmen And when you say the word guardsmen in May 4th, they’re like no, that’s gotta be the bad guy But it really is, when you listen to their voice and when you’re listening to them talk, they’re just students just like us And just like the students that were on the other side protesting >> It’s partly the layering on of costumes that differentiates the guardsman from the student In fact, [LAUGH] that could be the very thing that separates a guardsman from a student >> I look at them as different facets of the same character and they all just become facets of me I just try to channel pent up aggression and my patriotism for the national guardsman If I was to play a school child or one of the towns’ people would just that fear and the anxiety that war causes and traumatic events like this would cause >> Rehearsals were really draining for everyone just emotionally very, very draining cause of the subject we were working with We were working with death and the subject of death and trying to find a way to understand it >> The play brings us together through that shared sense of trauma >> It was all brokenness and that really comes through in the play And I’m grateful to David for that >> Until we could feel the viscera of the other, the gut and the heart of the other, we can’t begin to hope for peace >> Because we continue to wage war in the world and I have no real hopes of peace Now, in my lifetime, I don’t see that happening >> I’m very hopeful that it will affect people in the future Because I feel like my generation, the apathetic generation just we hide behind our keyboards and behind our screens and we wait and we watch And we scream our opinions, but we don’t do anything about it >> In 2012, there’s has a lot of value because it can still happen, to this day There’s protests here, protests there and we got to make sure that people do have the right to protest >> I hope that this piece encourages people to find and uncover and reveal those traumatic histories in their own places and to explore those Because really without the exploration and deep understanding of those histories and the people who lived those histories We cannot come to healing We can’t even begin to heal All we can do is keep covering it up >> I feel like it’s a subject that people stray away from and are afraid to talk about >> Can a deep listening place, I would say that Deeply fertile and is listening >> You know the efforts of the students and Mage’s poem, and Kathryn’s directing, and the script have created something larger than some of the parts >> And dealing with these real people’s testimonies, even though I don’t have a name to match to a face, just the blank testimony

You’d be amazed at how your mind will change how the way you think about things will change because you understand the way they felt with context >> And I think that they’re are timeless meanings and there are meanings about what it means to be a citizen in a democratic society and meanings about how do we sustain our democratic society? And one of the key ways that we do that is by listening to all those voices and respecting that multiplicity of perspectives, even if we disagree with what somebody else is saying >> It needs to be understood That this will never be resolved, ever, nor fully understood It has to be accepted and we learn from it, but it was a faulk >> This production of May 4th Voices is made possible by a generous grant from the Ohio Humanities Council With support from Kent State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History, Wick Poetry Center, and School of Theatre and Dance