The 49th commemoration of the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State University begins Friday evening.

At 7 p.m. Friday, a free panel discussion titled “Student Activism: Then and Now” will be presented at the Kent Student Center Kiva, off Summit Street.

Current student activists will be joined by Howie Emmer from the original Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at Kent State and E. Timothy Moore, professor emeritus in Kent State’s pan-African studies department and a former member of Black United Students (BUS) at the university.

At 11 p.m. Friday, the annual candlelight vigil walk will begin at the Kent State commons and end in the parking lot at Prentice Hall.

Nearly 49 years ago, four students were killed and nine were injured when Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire during a protest of the Vietnam War on the campus. The shootings played a role in congealing public opinion against the war.

Saturday’s anniversary observance, titled “May We Forever Stand: Long Live the Memory of Kent and Jackson State” will begin at noon on the Kent State Commons.

Speakers on Saturday will include author and lawyer Barbara Child, who has taught at Kent State; Rabbi Michael Ross of KSU Hillel, Cleveland musician Carlos Jones and keynote speaker J. Kavin Ross, an author, journalist and historian who has written about the Greenwood community of Tulsa, Okla.. The community, which in the early part of the 20th century was known as the “Black Wall Street,” was the site of a 1921 race massacre.

In March, KSU trustees approved a resolution "ensuring the university's commitment and responsibility" for the annual commemoration of the fatal shootings as well as ongoing education regarding the event that shocked the nation.

The trustees' action means that the May 4 Task Force student group will no longer be the organizer of the annual remembrance. The task force formed in 1975 in response to the university discontinuing its support that year for the commemorations.

The change will begin with the 50th commemoration in the 2019-20 academic year. The university already has begun planning a host of activities for the year.