Kent State: After the Bullets

Most of us know the famous photo showing the tragic student victim of Kent State May 1970 and the woman screaming.  You may not know that the woman screaming was affected all through her life from her accidental and unexpected notoriety, with death threats, school and police discipline, and the governor of her state calling her a communist – this at 14 years old.

You may also not know:

  • The fallen student, Jeffrey Miller played drums, wanted to make T-shirts and had a mother who wanted to tell him not to protest, but didn’t feel it was her place.
  • The photographer of this shot grabbed his film and threw it under the roofing of his Volkswagen and sped out of the state, thinking Ohio National Guard might be following him.
  • The shootings took place at the student commons, during a peaceful protest of unarmed students expressing their disapproval with the Vietnam War and the presence of National Guard troops on campus.
  • Years later, the same area was subject to controversy when the administration wanted to build a gym annex near where the events happened.
  • Kent State has markers and memorials to honor the students killed on May 4th.  But they didn’t always.
  • That memorial was controversial, and it did not happen for two decades after the event; that there were still protests by opponents over building a monument at all, and by victims over the size, shape and statement made by the monument.
  • Opinion wasn’t universally with the slain students, the school had little interest in memorializing for decades, courts turned a blind eye, and the criminal justice system focused not at those who killed students but at the students themselves.  We look at Kent State and everything that happened after the shots was fired,, including dozens of stories.

We talk to Howard Ruffner, author of “Moments of Truth” and both a photographer that day and an eyewitness to the events.  His photo appeared in LIFE magazine thee week of the shootings.

We also discuss the famous screaming photograph, (not Howard’s) the iconic image of Kent State, and how the photo changed the life of its subject.  We discuss the Tent City protests of alumni, students and parents, the fight over a memorial in the 80s and 90s.  And the statue that spoke through its metal about the day.



Be sure to check out Howard Ruffner’s book “Moments of Truth” here: