Looking back 40 years later
By Richard Becker
Editor’s note: This will be the first of a four-part story that looks back at the unfolding events of May 1970 at the University of Kentucky, when students and faculty voiced opposition to the destructive actions of their national and campus leaders. When all was said and done in Lexington, the National Guard had set up base on the university campus while, at the same time, students were banned from going on it; an aging former governor was made into a state folk hero for punching an unsuspecting student; and an unoccupied ROTC building was mysteriously burned to the ground.
This May will mark the fortieth anniversary of the killing by members of the U.S. National Guard of four students at Kent State University. On a local note, it will be the fortieth anniversary of the University of Kentucky’s response to the events at Kent State. For several days in the spring of 1970, UK, a bastion of political conservatism and, at times, simple apathy, was effectively shut down by students and community members who were moved to demonstrate against the United State’s illegal escalation of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and, later, the violent response of the State to university demonstrators in Ohio who protested the escalation.