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Tent City 1977 and the Kent State Gym Annex

Four Dead in Ohio

ISBN: 978-1-80071-808-1, eISBN: 978-1-80071-807-4

Publication date: 6 July 2021


Since the shootings at Kent State University (KSU) in 1970, students and activists have held commemorative ceremonies to mark that event. The university ignored that past and decided to build a gym annex covering part of the land on which the National Guard had maneuvered in 1970. Led by the May 4th Coalition, activists sought to persuade the university to change the building's location. The student concern was the preservation of what they viewed as “sacred” ground which would be buried underneath the annex. At the 1977 annual commemoration speakers raised the annex issue and the newly formed May 4th Coalition ultimately occupied the site of the planned building with a tent city. That occupation was forcefully removed, and the university did build the facility where planned. The physical and spatial aspects of the commemoration of the Kent State shootings did, over time, lead the university to take on the responsibility to memorialize that conflict. This paper focuses on two interrelated issues: (1) the efforts of the May 4th Coalition and residents of Tent City to block or move the gym annex and (2) the refusal of KSU for years to recognize the broad significance of the events of May 1970 and their attempt to ignore or bury it.



Smith, E.T. (2021), "Tent City 1977 and the Kent State Gym Annex", Solomon, J.A. (Ed.) Four Dead in Ohio (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 45), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 211-228.



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