Photo taken by John Filo at the Kent State University, Ohio, 1970.
for SATB choir (2020)
This piece was written in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the May 4th, 1970 shootings at Kent State University in Kent, OH. Based on the poem of the same name by Megan Neville-Jellen, LEGACY seeks to both remember the violence and tragedy of the incident, as well as pay respect to those affected. The text draws moving imagery from the Pulitzer Prize-winning iconic photo of Mary Ann Vecchio screaming over the body of Kent State student Jeffrey Miller, and captures the way in which remnants of tragedy trickle down through generations; lingering for decades, never to be forgotten.
...written in sobering remembrance of the victims, and every individual whose lives have been touched by this violence.
T E X T
LEGACY by Megan Neville-Jellen
You know the photo: the one of
the young woman with a scarf &
dark hair, crouching over what
used to be a student
hands plunging into the low atmosphere
as if she can grab her god’s shoulders &
shake him for letting this happen.
But you don’t know the man in plaid
over her left shoulder. You don’t know
his class had been dismissed early to
participate in democracy. He is too far
away & indistinct for you to see the
thick glasses, the mustache he still
wears fifty years later. You don’t know
that a decade after the National Guard
almost shot him, too, he would become
my father. Daffodils remain silent, but
not complicit: they’re still suffering shock.
Flowers planted in gun barrels, tear gas
tossed back at uniforms. Shoots
of yellow flowers from my baptism
poke through early May soil.
read more on a publicity statement released by the Cleveland Chamber Choir:
March 7th, 2020 at 7:30 PM – Kent United Church of Christ, Kent State, OH
March 8th, 2020 at 3PM – St. Ignatius of Antioch Church, Cleveland, OH