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APB Working with Kent State on 50th Anniversary Program

22 May 2019

Kent State: A 50th Anniversary Commemorative Program

In commemoration of the 1970 Kent State shootings that shook the American conscience and changed the course of the Vietnam War, APB Speakers is partnering with KSU to market an exclusive 50th anniversary program. “Kent State: The Lessons. The Legacy” features the firsthand accounts of survivors of the sixty-seven rounds fired at student Vietnam War protesters by Ohio National Guardsmen, killing four and wounding nine. The program merges the history of turbulent times with its lasting impact on the evolution of activism, especially student activism. “It is by design, not accident, that college students today are strapped with tuition debt and minimum wage jobs and given little opportunity to serve as the conscience of America,” said Chic Canfora, a participating survivor who lectures at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State. Chic is passionate about connecting the lessons of the anti-war movement to the movements of today. Speaking of the challenges to current student activism, she says, “They’re going to keep you busy. They’re going to keep you quiet so they can brand you the apathetic generation.”

It is no surprise that Kent State is working with APB, a company that began in the 1960s and built its early reputation upon bringing “controversial” speakers such as Dr. Martin Luther King and a young Vietnam vet named John Kerry to college campuses. “This program is really relevant to today’s college students,” says Bob Davis of APB Speakers, who has been working with universities to bring speaker programs to their campuses for more than forty years. Davis remembers the “Kent State Massacre” and its significance. “These survivors are from a time when students literally put their lives on the line to protest the Vietnam War,” says Davis. “Today, issues such as climate, racial and social justice and gender equality are as important now as Vietnam was back then. The students of today won’t just get a history lesson. They’ll be inspired to stand up for what they think is important.”

Alan Canfora, who waved a Black Power flag at guardsmen poised to fire and was later wounded, is a participating survivor available for selected appearances. Tom Grace, also wounded in the protests, will participate as well. Grace went on to become a historian and author of a book about Kent State. The highly flexible program allows for adding panelists and choosing a moderator. Carol Costello, a veteran reporter, former CNN host and Kent State graduate is also participating as a suggested moderator.

“Kent State: The Lessons. The Legacy.” is available for bookings between August, 2019 and June 2020.  

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