Blacks and Whites Together

The Civil Rights Story of Kent

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Fire in the Heartland is unique among films about Kent because it tells the story by showing the essential context of the Civil Rights struggle and its influential leadership at that campus.


Kent, Ohio was a primary river, canal and rail hub during slavery.  It was an active Underground Railroad stop. Sojourner Truth is said to have been there many times.  John Brown was adopted and grew up here, in Kent, then known as Franklin Mills.


The story of blacks and whites together working in the Civil Rights movement in Kent begins in 1960 with the sit-in protests at the Corner Bar in downtown Kent.  Those strikes result in victory, ending the system of de-facto segregation practiced at nearly every bar and restaurant in Kent at the time.


It continues between 1961 and 1968 with protest after protest and victory after victory resulting in ending official town and university policies and practices of segregation at public parks and swimming pools, high schools, housing, and at the University.


Kent State citizens and students lead delegations of people in the 1963 March on Washington, they go to fight for voting rights in the South during Freedom Summer 1964, and to see Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark anti-war speech in New York City in 1967.


At the beginning of 1968 black students at Kent form Black United Students (BUS) to fight racism, poverty, the war and the lack of black history educators and courses at Kent.