Kent State Survivor Thomas Grace on Infamous 1970 National Guard Killings

Grace's new book documents the horrific events that Neil Young immortalized with the words, "Four dead in Ohio."

Rag Radio VT-2
More than 45 years ago, on May 4, 1970, college sophomore and anti-war activist Thomas Grace was shot by National Guardsmen when they opened fire on unarmed students on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, killing four and injuring nine.

The Ohio killings were immortalized by Neil Young with his protest anthem, “Ohio,” featuring the line, “Four dead in Ohio.” Tom Grace’s new book, Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties, is considered the definitive history of this iconic event, written by one who was there, a book that has been called “a work of genuine scholarly importance.”

Tom Grace & Dreyer 2

Tom Grace, left, and Rag Radio host Thorne Dreyer.

On the show Tom gives a riveting first-hand account of the events of that day and of the week leading up to the shootings. He talks about the long history of activism at Kent State and the working class roots of its student body — and debunks the erroneous contention of many historians that the incident marked the death of the Kent State student movement.

Thomas M. Grace is adjunct professor of history at Erie Community College. A 1972 graduate of Kent State University, he earned a PhD in history from SUNY Buffalo after many years as a social worker and union representative. Grace, a Democratic Socialist, is the retired president of Public Employee Federation Local 167 in Buffalo. The Buffalo News says about Thomas Grace: “The zeal from his anti-Vietnam War days still burns inside him, especially his intolerance of economic and racial injustice, keeping him involved with [Buffalo’s] Coalition for Economic Justice.”

ragradio250x250Rag Radio is produced in the studios of KOOP 91.7-FM, an all-volunteer, cooperatively-run community radio station in Austin, Texas, in association with The Rag Blog and the New Journalism Project, a Texas 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The host and producer of Rag Radio, Thorne Dreyer, is a prominent Austin-based activist and writer who was a pioneer of the ’60s underground press movement. The show’s engineer and co-producer is Tracey Schulz and the staff photographer is Roger Baker. The syndicated show is broadcast (and streamed) live Fridays, 2-3 p.m. (Central) on KOOP in Austin, and is later rebroadcast and streamed on WFTE-FM in Mt. Cobb and Scranton, PA., on Houston Pacifica’s KPFT HD-3 90.1-FM, and by KKRN, 88.5-FM in Round Mountain, CA — and is a featured podcast at Veterans Today. All Rag Radio podcasts can be found at the Internet Archive. Contact: [email protected]

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One Response to "Kent State Survivor Thomas Grace on Infamous 1970 National Guard Killings"

  1. medicis  April 17, 2016 at 9:47 am

    My first wife and I attended Kent State during that time. My mother also attended but as a counseling psych grad student and resident director of a girl’s dorm (Verder Hall). The day before the shootings, I was talking with some friends in the old student union cafeteria when I saw a wave of protesters moving across the ‘commons’ toward the old WWII building which was later to be burned down. My Triumph Spitfire was parked next to that building. So I ran out and moved my car up towards the architecture bulding which was near the ‘grassy knoll’ where the Ohio national guard gathered the next day.
    On that next day, Janie and I were up very near the architecture building and were running inside it as the guard fired. Many thought they had heard the order to fire…. I had known Allison Kraus (sp?), — one of the students murdered — only to say ‘hi’ to her because I had a part time job working for ‘Housing Maintenance’ at KSU and she was a resident of one of the dormitories I worked in. You couldn’t miss her… she was a very attractive young woman. After the event, I lost that job because the school mainly shut down for the summer. We escaped from Kent a couple of days later, with just enough gas in the Triumph to make the Ohio turnpike where we could buy gas. None was sold near Kent. We headed to her parents’ house in Ann Arbor. No longer children.

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