On May 10, 1970, just days after the murders at Kent State University in Ohio, for a lone student entered Revelle Plaza at the University of California at San Diego bearing a sign reading “In God’s name, End this war.” Then, George Winne Jr., a 23-year-old student who had covered himself with rags soaked in gasoline, lit himself on fire.

For decades the university blocked attempts acknowledge this desperate act, even removing the bricks upon which Winne immolated himself and relocating them to a eucalyptus grove behind the library. In May, 2014 this changed.

The May 1970 Peace Memorial is located adjacent to the Revelle Plaza Fountain and features a marble plaque complete with a light installation. There is also a bench and a newly planted coral tree. An inscription on the memorial reads “For George Winne, Jr., the student activists of May 1970, and all those who continue the struggle for a peaceful world.”

Niall Twohig, a Ph.D. student in the department of literature and a teaching assistant in the Thurgood Marshall College’s Dimensions of Culture program explained that the light installation was added to the plaque to reflect a constellation of stars, a visual concept that pays homage to history. “What we find is often not what we expected because, like light from old stars, those histories shed light on the present and illuminate what a just world might look like,” he told The Triton, the school’s newspaper.

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