AGITPROP NEWS: The Massacres at Kent and Jackson - May, 1970

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Sat May 5 07:08:40 MDT 2001

[BOUNCE Non-member submission from
 ["Alewitz, Mike (Dept. of Art)" <ALEWITZM at>]]

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AGITPROP NEWS: The Massacres at Kent and Jackson - May, 1970

The following remarks by Mike Alewitz are excerpts from a program in
commemoration of the massacres at Kent and Jackson State on May 1970.
The author was a student leader at Kent State, an eyewitness to the
murders, and a leader of the national student strike which followed.
The program is an annual event organized by theater and art activists
at Central CT State University.


May 4, 1970 was a bloody day in the middle of the country.  On that
day the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a peaceful anti-war protest
at Kent State University.  As the Guardsmen marched away from the
scene, they left four dead or dying and eleven wounded.  Among the
victims were anti-war activists, ROTC students, and young people who
had been walking to class.  The massacre was followed with the police
barrage of bullets into a dormitory at Jackson State in Mississippi
that left two students dead and an unknown number of others wounded.

Students on these and other campuses were protesting against the
escalation of the war in Southeast Asia following President Richard
Nixon's invasion of Cambodia. That invasion was yet another failed
attempt to win a war that could not be won ñ despite the most massive
bombing, defoliation and napalming that the world had ever seen.

The massacres at Kent and Jackson, along with deep hatred of the war,
sparked a national student strike that was to become the largest
political demonstration in U.S. history.  Students, by the tens of
thousands, used their universities as a base of organizing to reach
deep into the heart of working class America ñ and into the army ñ
with their anti-war message.

It is worth keeping this in mind when we contemplate the recent
admission of Senator Bob Kerry that he killed civilians during the

Kerry is apparently troubled by his past.  Some have rushed forward to
extend their sympathy to Kerry. They imply, or state, that Kerry was a
victim of the war.  I haven't seen them moved to express too much
sympathy for the victims of Kerry's crimes, or for the millions
devastated by the war in SE Asia, or for the victims of war here,
including the tens of thousands of vets discarded on the streets of
this country.

Bob Kerry is a war criminal.  He was involved in the slaughter of
innocent and defenseless people.  He was given, and accepted, a medal
for it.  He parlayed his bogus story into a successful business, a US
Senate seat, and eventually into the presidency of The New School.
It's been a lifetime of duplicity.

Kerry was never a hero - but there were genuine American heroes in

The vast majority of GI's did not participate in or support the
actions of the Kerrys.  The real heroes were the US soldiers - men and
women of conscience - who organized to end the war. They were led by
African-American and Latino GIs, often reacting to the racist nature
of the war and the hypocrisy of the Johnson and Nixon
governments. They faced jail and victimization to wage a heroic
rank-and-file movement so massive that the army was forced to withdraw
from Southeast Asia.

We should be very proud of those brothers and sisters. We can also be
proud of the students who marched, sat in, organized, went to jail,
faced tear gas, and gave their lives in the struggle for peace.

Today there is a profound social crisis in this country.  To many it
seems that the wealthy are mad with greed.  The disparity of wealth
between the rich and the poor is greater than any time in history, and
the gap is widening.  The conditions that are creating rebellions in
Chiapas and Cincinnati seem destined to become more generalized

The decade-long struggle to end the war in Vietnam revealed that only
a massive movement could bring peace.  Today there is a new movement
beginning for global economic justice.  Young people are demonstrating
in Seattle, Quebec and many other cities.  They envision a world where
food is not a weapon to be used against poor countries, where
U.S. dollars don't go to death squads, where workers have a living
wage, where sweatshops are eliminated and money goes to human needs
and not war.  They look to a world of peace and justice.

Today's protesters are squarely in the tradition of the anti-war
soldiers who rejected terror and fought for peace.  With them we see
the living legacy of those who died at Kent and Jackson.  We should be
optimistic about the future.


Mike Alewitz, Artistic Director
alewitzm at 

c/o Department of Art 
Central Connecticut State University 
New Britain, CT  06050 
Phone: (860)832-2359 

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