What the Kent State Killings Did to the Student Protest Era | JSTOR Daily


In a national student survey, researcher Donald L. Thistlewaite saw few changes among college students across the U.S. by the following year. He noted that May 4th, 1970, marked a time when American society was more divided than ever.

But in retrospect, the events at Kent State marked the ending of widespread campus protest left over from the turbulent 1960s. The heyday of intense and sometimes violent college student protest and the reaction it engendered had passed. Over the next few years, Nixon gradually wound down the American ground presence in the war and ended the draft, calming campus tensions.

The annual commemorations, according to O’Hara, including artwork commissioned to memorialize the event, have turned from somber to “a surprisingly buoyant fete of postwar unity and historical reconciliation.”