Special Collections and Archives

Cynthia Watkins Richardson, Commentary

Special Collections and Archives

Cynthia Watkins Richardson, Commentary

Cynthia Watkins Richardson, Commentary

Submitted via email, April 26, 2000


I have been thinking about Kent State a lot lately -- especially since the now famous photo of Elian being taken at the point of the gun to see his father. I deeply feel that futility of wishing for progress of our society. It seems that nothing has changed.

I was a student at the University of Massachusetts in the downtown Boston campus when Kent State occurred. The son of the Kent State University president was in one of my classes. Our campus was full of returning vets and working class people, and it was a dynamic, interesting place to be learning. While I was a student, I lived in an apartment adjacent to Harvard, and had many friends living in Boston. I participated in all the events on Boston Commons, the march down Massachusetts Avenue, and escaped being gassed in Cambridge in the riots that followed the peaceful student protest of the deaths at Kent State.

Kent State has made an indelible imprint on my life, and has left me with a feeling of sadness that is continually reinforced. Now thirty years later, I am the mother of a child with Asperger's Syndrome, and he is being criminalized for his disordered speech and erratic behavior. The attitude of those in authority, especially the military minded police and law enforcement officials in my community, is no different than the mindset of those who justified the murder at Kent State. It seems we have learned nothing in the 30 years following the bloodshed of innocent students like I was at the time. Now, I fear for my son. I fear for my community. I fear for the future.