In the Wake of Virginia Tech

Although the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State occurred 37 years ago, the tragedy at Virginia Tech on April 16 reminds us again of the horror of experiencing such violence on U.S. College campuses. Since the senseless massacre at Virginia Tech, this website has experienced an increased interest as people attempt to find historical touchstones in the attempt to understand such tragedies. The Pittsburgh Gazette editorial page recognized the similarities in the horror felt in 1970 with that of 2007 with the stunning editorial of John Filo's 1970 Pulitzer Prize winning photo of Mary Vechio over the body of Jeff Miller - with one addition of dramatic license: "Virginia Tech" was emblazoned on Vechio's t-shirt.

I have added a section on the Virginia Tech tragedy to the May 4 Archive website so that present and future readers can study the clear differences and similarities between the two incidents. The aftermath of the killings at Kent State presented a difficult time for the university as it attempted to move forward. This included the feeble public relations attempt of changing the name of the University to Kent - as if this would help people forget what will be forever etched in our minds of what happened on May 4, 1970 at Kent State. It also witnessed a figurative and literal attempt of covering up the facts by Governor Rhodes with an ill planned gym constructed on the site of the practice football field where the guard regrouped just moments before the shootings.

It is clear from a cursory look at the events leading up to and following the shootings at both VA Tech and Kent and Jackson State that there were major communication breakdowns and leadership issues among the various constituencies both prior to and in the aftermath of the shootings. This once again underscores the importance of communication and the necessity for all organizations and individuals to be involved in strategic risk and crisis communication efforts in the effort to effectively take control of these major societal disruptions when they do occur. A related belief in public diplomacy and the power of the individual to make a difference in the aftermath of crises, in this instance, 9/11, can be found at

The objective of the this website is to be a source of historical and cultural knowledge of the shootings at Kent State. It is my hope that in the wake of Kent State, Jackson State, Columbine and now VA. Tech, all will reflect on the sanguine message of Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


Gregory Payne, Ph. D
Boston, April 2007

Developing News: 37th Anniversary of Kent State Shootings Brings Several New Revelations

Ohio Governor Rhodes and His Relationship with the FBI
Scoop Independent News (Friday, May 4, 2007)
Ten days after Governor James A. Rhodes assumed office on January 14, 1963, a Cincinnati FBI agent wrote Director J. Edgar Hoover a memo stating: "At this moment he [Rhodes] is busier than a one-armed paper hanger .... Consequently, I do not plan to establish contact with him for a few months."
Military order "Fire!" 1970 Kent State audio tape released
Now Public (Tuesday, May 1, 2007)
Alan Canfora recently released two versions of a 20-second clip — the original and an amplified version — in which he says a Guard officer issues the command, "Right here! Get Set! Point! Fire!"

Recent News Stories: Kent State & Virigina Tech

Kent community can sympathize with Virginia Tech's pain
Dayton Daily News (Sun, Apr 22, 2007)
As Virginia Tech begins the process of healing and moving forward, another university community prepares to commemorate the 37th anniversary of another national tragedy that rocked the world: The May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guard shootings at Kent State University, in which four students were killed and nine others wounded.
Kent State offers support to Tech
Richmond Times-Dispatch (Sun, Apr 22, 2007)
Kent State University President Lester Lefton has expressed solidarity with Virginia Tech, saying the Ohio school is an example of how an institution can rebound from tragedy.
Stigma, sad milestones will likely haunt campus
Dayton Daily News (Sun, Apr 22, 2007)
On May 4, 1970, destiny arrived, uninvited, to northeast Ohio's Kent State University.
A list of deadly campus shootings
Helena Independent Record (Sun, Apr 22, 2007)
Fatal shootings at U.S. colleges or universities in recent years.


"Campus Violence: The Virginia Tech Tragedy"

Jerome Lewis is Broadcast Journalism student at Emerson College in Boston MA. He is actively involved in motion graphics and video production and has several credits to hid name including special features in Hurricane Katrina,saudi American Exchange and his latest work on the Virginia Tech tragedy. He is currently working on a major feature on the Kent State University shootings in 1970 with Dr. Payne of Emerson College.He is also a voiceover artist for several radio stations including i95.5fm radio in Trinidad and Tobago. Click here to view the video online



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