Quotations & Legacy: Kent State 1970

Quotations proving the historical importance of the Kent State Tragedy & the national student strike of May, 1970:

“This country’s first national student strike was the result of the killing of four students by National Guardsmen. The 100-a-day new campus protests that occurred during the four days following the student fatalities at Kent State are unprecedented in our history. Kent State escalated years of student unrest to historic heights that shocked the nation. What gave the period of May 1-15 its unique intensity and agony was the killing of four students at Kent State on May 4.”
–from the book ON STRIKE…SHUT IT DOWN! (a 1970 scientific national survey by Urban Research Corporation of Chicago)


“The climax of dissent, disruption and tragedy in all American history to date occurred in May, 1970. That month saw the involvement of students and institutions in protests in greater numbers than ever before in history.”
–Clark Kerr, former president of the University of California


“The impact is only barely suggested by the statistics, but they are impressive enough. In the next four days (after the Kent State shootings), from May 5 to May 8, there were major campus demonstrations at a rate of more than 100 a day, students at a total of at least 350 institutions went on strike and 536 schools were shut down completely for some period of time, 51 of them for the entire year. More than half of the colleges and universities in the country (1,350) were ultimately touched by protest demonstrations, involving nearly 60% of the student population (nearly five million students) in every kind of institution any kind of institution and in every state in the union.”
–from the book SDS by Kirkpatrick Sale


“There can be little doubt that the current period (May, 1970) of student unrest has had more impact on the body politic than any previous epoch in American history…”
–from the book PASSION and POLITICS by Seymour Martin Lipset


“Those few days after Kent State were among the darkest of my presidency.”
–from the book RN: THE MEMOIRS OF RICHARD NIXON by President Richard Nixon


“Kent State, in May 1970, marked a turning point for Nixon, the beginning of his downhill slide toward Watergate. None of us realized it then, we were all too busy trying to calm the national furor over the Cambodian invasion.”
–from the book THE ENDS OF POWER by H.R. Haldeman (one of Nixon’s closest White House advisers)


“When on May 4, four students at Kent State University were killed by rifle-fire from National Guardsmen dispatched by Ohio Governor James Rhodes, to keep order during several days of violence, there was a shock wave that brought the nation and its leadership close to the point of physical exhaustion…The momentum of student strikes and protests accelerated immediately…Washington took on the character of a besieged city. A pinnacle of mass public protest was reached… Police surrounded the W… Police surrounded the White House; a ring of buses was used to shield the grounds of the President’s home…The tidal wave of media and student criticism powerfully affected Congress…The very fabric of government was falling apart. The executive branch was shell-shocked. After all, their children and their friends’ children took part in the demonstrations…The President saw himself as the firm rock in this rushing stream, but the turmoil had its effect on him as well. Pretending indifference, he was deeply wounded… Nixon reached a point of exhaustion that caused his advisors deep concern.”
–from the book THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS by Henry Kissinger (Nixon’s Secretary of State)

“Again, where the people are absolute rulers of the land,
they rejoice in having a reserve of youthful citizens,
while a king counts this a hostile element
and seeks to slay the leading ones,
all such as he deems discreet,
for he feareth for his power.”
–from the Greek tragedy, THE SUPPLIANTS, by Euripedes