On Thursday, February 9, Tom Grace, the author of Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties will be speaking about his recent book published by the University of Massachusetts Press. The book examines the long prelude leading up to of the most searing incidents of American history during the Vietnam Era, the killing of four students and the wounding of nine others during an antiwar protest in May 1970. One critique described the study as “a systematic deconstruction of many media-generated myths” among them that the campus was without an activist tradition, that the National Guard members were young and inexperienced, and that the killings led to an end to the era of mass protest.
Taking issue with these myths, Grace shows that Kent State was not a tragic anomaly. Rather, the campus movement was grounded in a tradition of activism extending back to labor battles and civil rights protests of the 1950s. Thus the fatal shootings at Kent State were the culmination of a conflict between the forces of radicalism and repression that unfolded throughout the decade of the 1960s.
Thomas M. Grace, Ph.D., is the author of Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties. He is an adjunct professor of American history at Erie Community College. He was among the thirteen students struck by the National Guard gunfire that killed four of his classmates.