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Much has changed in the 50 years since the shootings including the university's own acknowledgment and acceptance of what happened on that day. At the same time, some questions and mysteries still remain.To mark the 50th anniversary, we consider the lasting impact of the shootings.

Tamir Rice's Mother is a Featured Speaker at Kent's May 4 Commemmoration

photo of Samaria Rice

 This year’s choice of speaker at Kent State’s May 4th commemorations is drawing criticism as well as praise.

Samaria Rice – the mother of Tamir Rice -- will speak during the events Wednesday to commemorate the 1970 shootings of 13 students during anti-war protests. Alan Canfora was one of those shot, and he helped found the May 4th Task Force in 1975 to plan the annual remembrance. Since then, speakers ranging from then-Congressman Sherrod Brown to Joan Baez have provided a tie-in with current events, and the Tamir Rice situation is no exception.

“I think you can see some parallels where forces of the government overreacted in certain situations, whether it’s on a college campus or in the streets of a city.

“I know the college students around the country -- especially the African-American students -- are very concerned about excessive force being used in the community. I know also that police forces and prosecutors in government and cities are addressing this issue, so I do think it’s very timely indeed.”

Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in 2014 while playing with a realistic-looking toy gun. His family last month agreed to a $6 million settlement with the City of Cleveland.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.