Fire in the Heartland

This film was a lot more interesting than I thought it was going to be. I assumed that it would focus only on the May 4th shootings and be extremely sad. It as actually the opposite. Yes the film was about May 4th, but it showed how the whole thing started and what led up to it.

In the late 60’s, Kent State was home of artists, poets, politicians, and musicians. It was also home of the largest student uprising. Kent State was very racist towards black people back then.The students protested against segregation. Poverty led to racism and racism led to war.

Howie Emmer was a radical voice and a leader of the SDS (students for democratic society). This group definately spread the word all over the states. They went to Chicago and caused a riot between them and the police. They also went to New York to be in the peace movement walk.

In 1968, the Vietnam War was occurring and many of the students went into the draft. On April 4th, Martin Luther King Jr. died and civil unrest broke out everywhere. Nixon came and the SDS chanted, “Defense Nixon”. The police came to recruit students of the Black Panthers but the students shut down the activity center which stopped the police. Soon enough, things got worse. One by one, the students started to leave campus. They were trying to prove how bad things got.

In the spring, the spring offense came with its demands. The SDS confronted the administration and four people were arrested. The SDS ran to the hearing and ceased the building. Terry Robbins created the weathermen proposal and split the war movement. The days of rage then occurred in Chicago.

Nixon proceeded to announce the invasion of Cambodia during Bill Caldwell’s funeral. The students were so angry and had had enough. They went downtown and broke windows and burnt a building.

On May 3rd, the Governor sent the National Guard to Kent State and the helicopters poured tear gas on the students. On May 4th, there were lots of people and a man in a jeep read them their rights. More tear gas appeared. The national guard walked towards them and the students chanted, “out of gas!” One student waved a black flag. The national guard marched up the hill and fired. 9 were wounded and 4 were killed. This inspired 3 million students to protest. Jackson State University protested and violence broke out as well. 

In 1975, parents of the victims sued Kent State. Students come every year to remember. The gym annex was built where the tragedy happened. Although they did build a memorial on campus.

At the end of the film, Jerry M. Lewis talked to us a little. He was on campus on May 4th. He told us to remember one thing, ” inquire, learn, reflect.”



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