By John King and Justin Kindelt
Warren, Ohio native Donald Drumm designed and fabricated the Bridge Over Troubled Waters memorial in 1970. Drumm was the first artist in residence at Bowling Green State University from 1965 to 1971. If you look to the Northeast, the 8-story mural on the face of Jerome Library is his most prominent creation on campus at BGSU.
The memorial first appeared in the BG News on August 6, 1970. The author noted that Drumm dedicated the memorial to students killed in May 1970 at both Kent State University in Akron, Ohio as well as Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.
|BG News August 6, 1970|
The Ohio National Guard shot thirteen students during an anti-Vietnam War protest on the campus of Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Four students were killed and nine others were wounded. One of the bullets fired from the weapons of the Ohio National Guard also pierced the 15-foot abstract sculpture of Donald Drumm.
10 days later on May 14th racial tension reached a boiling point on the campus of Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, as city and state police shot over 400 rounds into Alexander Hall, killing two students. The officers claimed that they saw a sniper within Alexander Hall, a claim later proven false in an FBI investigation.
|BG News, September 20, 1970.|
Donald Drumm’s website states; “three days after May 4, 1970, Akron artist Don Drumm went to the campus of Kent State University with a team of journalists from the Akron Beacon Journal. They wanted his perspective on one thing: a bullet hole in the 15-foot sculpture...They invited Mr. Drumm to a farm in Suffield Township and asked him to bring along a piece of steel that was the same thickness of the material he used in the sculpture. The same type of firearm and ammunition used by the national guard soldiers was fired into the steel plate. When the test was complete, the resulting hole looked the same as the one in Mr. Drumm’s sculpture, with the metal rim bending out in the direction from which the bullet was fired. The study had shown the bullet came from the National Guard, not a rogue sniper. As Drumm requested the bullet hole has not been repaired in the sculpture and remains to this day.”
The metal used in the "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" memorial is the same as from the one pierced by a national guard bullet during the Kent State Massacre.
As you approach the memorial, look to the base on the northeast corner, which reads, “IN MEMORIUM OF THE KENT FOUR AND JACKSON TWO.”
|Drumm's welded dedication to the murdered|
Jackson State and Kent State Students.
(Photo: Justin Kindelt, 2020)
While the memorial's connection to the Kent State Massacre has often been noted in subsequent literature, the murders at Jackson State University are often silenced from the historical record. Even some articles in the BG News, the memorial is simply referred to as only a “Kent State Memorial."
In reference to the "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" memorial, even Donald Drumm’s website leaves out the memorial's connections to African American history.
“This is not the Drumm sculpture most people associate with the Kent State shootings. But for the artist himself, this is the May 4 memorial. Into it he poured his own sorrow and confusion over a tragedy he still cannot comprehend.”
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