Rag Radio: 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."


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.”

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.”

Rag 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 VT. All Rag Radio podcasts can be found at the Internet Archive. Contact: [email protected]


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