As we traveled across the sleepy Ohio landscape, no one imagined the history we were about to encounter. We made our way through the tree lined streets till we were greeted by Alan Canfora, a self proclaimed “long haired, radical, anti war activist”, who was shot by the national guard on May 4th, 1970 during a student protest against the Vietnam War. In one of the most widely disseminated photos of the Kent State massacre, Canfora is featured defiantly wielding a black flag in front of the heavily militarized national guard.
There are very few times one feels as if they have traveled back in time. Yet, as I stood watching Canfora raise his infamous photo while his black baseball cap fluttered in the wind, I looked across the lush grass and could almost see the guards in formation upon the hill. I could hear the cries of the students fleeing from the bombardment of tear gas; I could feel the terror as the students hid behind trees and cars to avoid the bullets.
As student activists ourselves, there is nothing more pertinent than the struggle at Kent State. It is obligatory that we acknowledge and honor the strife of others as they try to have their voices heard. For, they have paved the way for us to be able to freely express our first amendment rights. These basic freedoms were taken away at Kent State, but by learning the story, we ensure our ability to engage in civil discourse and learn from one another in a peaceful manner.
After a short drive to Cleveland, we met with Patrick Jones, the founder of the start-up Vocatio, a company whose goal is to provide young people with tools to help them discern a viable career path based on their passions. We discussed our thoughts on the current political climate as well as our thoughts on specific candidates. This was the perfect prelude to going to the convention.
Next, we made our way inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where we learned about music that shaped and evolved alongside our history. We dug deeper into the origins of songs we had previously discussed such as “Times They Are A’Changin” by Bob Dylan and the effect it had on the politics of 1968.
It was truly an amazing day! I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to visit Cleveland to do so!
Always on the lookout for adventure,
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