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Ferris Professor to Discuss Kent State Shootings 40 Years Later

Harry DempseyBIG RAPIDS – Monday, May 4, 1970 is a day that Ferris State University associate professor of music Harry Dempsey will never forget.

Then a junior at Kent State University in Ohio, Dempsey vividly recalls what happened on that day. Members of the Ohio National Guard, in just 13 seconds, fired more than 60 rounds at student demonstrators gathered to protest the Vietnam War. Gunfire resulted in the deaths of four students and the wounding of nine others – including one who suffered permanent paralysis. The impact of what happened on May 4, 1970 sparked nationwide protests that impacted, and in some cases shut down, hundreds of colleges and universities.

Forty years later, Dempsey will host a presentation entitled “Understanding Kent State: The Disconsolate Phantoms of Lost Liberty” on Thursday, Nov. 18 in Ferris’ Music Center Room 122 beginning at 11 a.m. His presentation will center on what happened that day, why students were killed, who the students were and the resolution to their deaths examined 40 years later.

“I walked across campus between classes to the university commons to attend a noon gathering of students who were assembling to get information regarding the presence of national guardsmen on the university campus,” said Dempsey, who is in his 32nd year teaching at Ferris. “Within a half hour four students lay dead with others wounded.”

Dempsey earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Kent State where he also served as a graduate teaching assistant.

For more information, contact Matt Moresi at (231) 591-5850.