May 4th 1970 Commemorative Jacket Colored Threads Original

On May 4th, 1970, during a protest against the Vietnam War, Kent State -- our small university in northeast Ohio -- became the center of American politics.

Just days after hearing what happened, millions of college students around the USA organized their own protests, shutting down hundreds of campuses in what the Urban Institute deemed “the first nationwide student strike in US history.”

From Neil Young’s “Ohio” to Stephen King’s The Stand, artists and writers around the world were influenced by the events at a blue-collar college that, up to that point, no one would’ve imagined would be in the national spotlight.

In Washington DC, more than 100,000 demonstrators gathered outside the White House to stand in solidarity with the students. Some advisors close to Nixon even claim that May 4th marked his descent into Watergate -- and therefore his eventual resignation as President.

May 4th marks a major turning point in American history. From then on, Kent State would be forever linked with the antiwar movement. Kent -- and even America -- would never be the same.

If you live in Kent or attend KSU, you’ve undoubtedly at least heard of it, but maybe you don’t know exactly what happened.

In commemoration, here’s a short summary.

What Happened on May 4th, 1970?

Richard Nixon partly won the presidential election in 1968 by promising to put an end to the Vietnam War, and for a few months following his election, he seemed to be doing just that: starting around June 1969, Nixon pulled troops out of Vietnam at a rate of about 12,000 per month, and he had plans on pulling out an additional 150,000, going from a then-ceiling of 434,000 to 284,000.

However, on April 30th, 1970, Nixon ordered US troops to invade Cambodia, a neutral territory west of Vietnam. Many saw this as a reversal of the President’s promises, an extension of a war that they would rather avoid.

Protests erupted across the country.

In Kent, things started peacefully and quietly. Hundreds of students gathered on the Commons, right by the Victory Bell, and they took turns giving speeches against Nixon and American involvement in Vietnam:

On the night of May 2nd, though, radicals set fire to the ROTC building, and the National Guard was called in to disband the protests.

Funny enough, May 3rd was relatively uneventful. A reportedly bright and sunny day, students were seen chatting and messing around with on-duty guards -- which by that point numbered more than a thousand.

There was an additional protest scheduled for May 4th, and, even though the campus and National Guard had banned rallies, more than 2,000 showed up.

With more than a thousand National Guardsmen on campus, one hundred of them carrying M-1 rifles stationed outside the charred remains of the ROTC building, the stage was set for a devastating outcome. 

Four Dead in Ohio

On May 4th, the National Guard ordered the students to disperse by firing tear gas and advancing toward them with bayonet-fixed rifles. 

The protesters started to throw rocks.

The National Guard opened fire.

Over 13 seconds, 67 rounds killed four Kent State University students and injured nine more.

This jacket was made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the May 4th tragedy at Kent State University. The lost lives of the four students that day had a profound impact on the community that resounded across the nation. 

Colored Threads Original May 4th Commemorative Jacket

Today we remember those students and we appreciate them for standing up for what they believed in despite adversity.

Colored Threads Original May 4th Commemorative Jacket

About Colored Threads

Colored Threads is a local business in Kent, Ohio dedicated to high-quality custom-embroidered clothing. If you have a design that you’d like printed on a jacket, shirt, towel or any other suitable fabric, all you have to do is send us a picture and we’ll take care of the rest.

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