WE WILL NEVER FORGET

About the Kent Massacre Mural/Wall Blog

Dear Friends,

May 4, 2010, will mark the 40-year anniversary of the massacre at Kent State University in Ohio.

The events of that day – the killing of four and wounding of nine students, sparked a national student strike, the largest such action in US history. Ten days later, two students were killed and at least twelve wounded at Jackson State University in Mississippi – and the strike spread and deepened.

The campus shutdowns marked a turning point in the fight against the war, as students took over the universities and reached out to the working class, particularly within the armed forces.

I was the chairman of the Kent Student Mobilization Committee Against the War, and an eyewitness to the slaughter – among the victims were close friends and fellow activists. After the shootings, like thousands of others, I threw myself into building the strike – telling our story at meetings and rallies around the country demanding an end to the war.

I did not return to Kent. The strike led me to Austin, Texas, organizing for the SMC and the regional anti-war coalition. From that vantage point I saw how the student movement provided important support to one of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the US working class – the movement of active-duty GIs that was critical in forcing the US to withdraw from Southeast Asia.

Years later, I returned to school to study art. Since then, I’ve tried to paint murals that reveal the hidden history and martyrs of our class: a monument to the heroes of Chernobyl in the Ukraine, Malcolm X in Belfast, Karen Silkwood for energy workers, Ben Linder in Nicaragua, Rachel Corrie in Palestine and others.

But I have yet to paint a mural about May 4. I suppose I was hoping that at some point they’d break down and invite me back to Kent.  But, as the witnesses, participants and observers of those events become older, and memories dim, (particularly my own,) it seems like I better get going and put some paint on the wall.

I’d like to begin by asking for your participation. I have set up a temporary blog site at https://kentmassacre.wordpress.com to post recollections of that day and those times – what the Kent State Massacre meant to you.

You can write just a few words or a longer story. It can be about political events, your reactions, how it affected your life, a recollection about someone else, etc. Photos and images would also be great. My hope is that we create a digital “wall” that is a mural in it’s own right.

Over the years, I’ve given hundreds of slide shows and presentations about the massacre. People often approach me with anecdotes – so I know there is a wealth of history worth sharing. This is for everyone – strikers, students, artists, soldiers, activists, observers, young or old, from the US or internationally, etc.

The mural itself will be a modest initiative – perhaps portable, for use at demonstrations. In the true spirit our movement, it will be lacking in time, resources and organization. The project will be planned, and perhaps painted, here at Central Connecticut State University, where we have a socially engaged art department and mural program.

By a fortunate coincidence, Jerry Butler, a gifted public artist and muralist, has recently joined our department. He was a participant in the protests at Jackson State and may paint something about those events – we have begun to explore coordinated works for both anniversaries, and I’m sure he would appreciate your comments, as well.

In the past four decades, much of the history of the massacre has been misrepresented or buried – including the nature of the anti-war movement at Kent. Our movement was not the actions of a small group of radicals – it was a mass movement that involved thousands of Kent students – part of an international movement of millions of people that confronted and defeated US imperialism.  In the process, we inspired new movements and created culture that changed the world.

Those who fell deserve images that reveal the truth – from many artists. Our collective memory of those times must be preserved – to help build a renewed and determined anti-war movement today.

Bring the Troops Home Now!

In Solidarity

Mike Alewitz

Post your messages at https://kentmassacre.wordpress.com.

Send comments to: alewitz@comcast.net

Please distribute this message widely



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MIKE ALEWITZ/ Associate Professor/ Mural Program

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Art Department/ Central CT State University/ 1615 Stanley Street/ New Britain, CT  06050

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