Web Extra: Remembering Kent State

Welcome to the first Rural Roots Rising web extra! As protests of police violence against black Americans continue across the country, we have witnessed large scale police and National Guard deployment, many outfitted with intimidating and sophisticated warfighting gear. Countless videos have shown police officers and the National Guard using batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning or seemingly unprovoked. 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Kent State attacks, reminding us that militarized violence is nothing new and has shaped our country, just as there have always been those who refuse to be silenced. 

Download this episode’s transcript here.

Today we are sharing a special episode of Rural Roots Rising, Remembering Kent State, featuring the story of Joe Lewis, one of nine peaceful student activists who was wounded in the National Guard’s attack on nonviolent protesters of the Vietnam War at Kent State University on May 4th, 1970. Four students were also killed that day: Allison Beth Krause, Jeffrey Glenn Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer, and William Knox Schroeder. 

Years after Kent State, Joe moved to Oregon where he became a leader with Columbia County Coalition for Human Dignity and now sits on the ROP Board of Directors. At a recent Rural Organizing Project Board of Directors retreat, Joe sat down with us to share his story. To read more about this historyJoe recommends the books Kent State; Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties by Tom Grace and Truth About Kent State: A Challenge to the American Conscience by Peter Davies. For movies, he recommends Fire in the Heartland and The Day the War Came Home. Kent State is hosting a fiftieth anniversary virtual commemoration online, including a teach-in in partnership with the Kent State Truth Tribunal.

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