Vietnam War: Kent / Jackson State Songs

A collection of songs and spoken-word recordings referencing the Kent and Jackson State shootings

The Kent State demonstration on 4 May 1970, protesting the Cambodia incursion, saw four students killed by the Ohio State National Guard.  Two students were subsequently killed by Mississippi state and Jackson city police, at Jackson State college ("Jackson State Killings") on 15 May 1970. This instance of the war’s brutality being enacted on American soil shocked the nation, and within weeks “Ohio” was released by super group Crosby, Still, Nash & Young, placing blame firmly with the government, just one of more than 50 songs released about Kent & Jackson State. 

This forms part of the larger Vietnam War Song Project, an interpretive examination of over 6,000 Vietnam War songs identified, revealing how the war's significance is represented through music. The project also collects spoken-word recordings about the conflict. The goals of the project are: (1) to critically analyse the song lyrics, searching for historical, social, and cultural themes, and collecting data on the genre, location, ethnicity, nationality, language, and time period of the recordings; (2) to learn about the Vietnam War, and the music and artists associated with it; (3) to preserve the physical records for the future, as artifacts of the 20th century. This unique collection of voices advances scholarship by providing insights into people’s views about the war over time as represented in music, looking at diverse communities and vibrant music scenes. It is crucial in developing our knowledge of the war and the humanities, through the use of a digital research platform.
Poster from New York University, calling for a demonstration to protest the "Kent State Massacre".


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University of Maryland, Modern Songs of War and Conflict: Keesing Collection on Popular Music and Culture, 2024

Vietnam War Song Project

Justin Brummer, Founding Editor


The Vietnam War: A History in Song

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History Today, 2018


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