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 First Amendment activist Mary Beth Tinker

Mary Beth Tinker was a plaintiff in the case Tinker v. Des Moines which resulted in a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the plaintiffs favor.


By 1965, about 170,000 U.S. soldiers were stationed in Vietnam. Graphic footage of the war was carried into households everyday in this first “televised” war. As a 13-year-old student in eighth grade, Mary Beth was strongly affected by news of the war. She and her brothers and sisters, along with other students in Des Moines, decided to wear black armbands to school to mourn the dead on both sides of the Vietnam war. The armbands were also in support of a Christmas truce called by Senator Bobby Kennedy that year. The Des Moines school board tried to block the students from wearing the armbands, and most of the students who wore them were suspended.


The case eventually went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in a landmark decision in 1969 that students in public schools do have First Amendment rights. Justice Abe Fortas wrote in the majority opinion that students and teachers do not “shed their constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate.”


Mary Beth continues to educate young people about their rights, speaking frequently to students groups across the country. An advocate for the rights of youth, particularly in the areas of health and education, she is a pediatric nurse who is active in her union and holds masters degrees in both public health and nursing. In 2000, the Marshall-Brennan Project at Washington College of Law at American University named it’s annual youth advocacy award after Mary Beth. In 2006, as a tribute to Tinker’s devotion to the rights of young people, the ACLU National Board of Directors’ Youth Affairs Committee renamed its annual youth affairs award the "Mary Beth Tinker Youth Involvement Award."



[note: Schema-Root.org is a project of Mary Beth's brother, John Tinker, who was also a plaintiff in Tinker v. Des Moines.]

Mary Beth Tinker
Mary Beth Tinker
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updated Sat. March 17, 2018

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Anika Shah wasn't born in April 1999 when two teens attacked Columbine High School in Colorado killing 13 people and instilling fear in a nation that wondered if children are no longer safe in schools. Still, the 17-year-old junior from Southlake Carroll Senior High School can list facts about Columbine ...
This distinction between public high school and college students comes from a 1969 Supreme Court decision, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community school District. Mary Beth Tinker, a 13-year-old student at Warren Harding Junior High School in Des Moines, Iowa, wore a black armband to school ...

Tinkerhess was only 8 years old when his sister Mary Beth Tinker, then 13; brother John Tinker, then 15, and sister Hope, then 11; along with some other students decided to wear black armbands to school one day in December of 1965 as a sign of opposition to the Vietnam War. The school board heard ...
On December 16 and 17, 1965, a student at Warren Harding Junior High in Des Moines named Mary Beth Tinker wore a black armband to class in order to protest the Vietnam War. She was suspended by the local school board. She fought her case all the way up to the United States Supreme Court which, ...
In 1957, there were the nine African-American children who defied the governor of Arkansas and enrolled in the all-white Little Rock Central High School. In 1965, 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker's black armband, which she wore in protest of the Vietnam War, sparked a lawsuit that ultimately gave free-speech ...

Mary Beth Tinker and her brother, John, display two black armbands, the objects of the U.S. Supreme Court's agreement March 4, 1968, to hear arguments on how far public schools may go in limiting the wearing of political symbols. The children, both students at North High School in Des Moines, Iowa, ...
Mary Beth Tinker, who was 13 in December 1965, and her then-15-year-old brother John, along with a childhood friend Chris Eckhardt, who died in 2012, were at the center of controversy when they decided to wear black armbands to school in protest of the Vietnam War. "It was interesting to be in the ...
Des Moines when in 1965, Des Moines high school student Mary Beth Tinker chose to protest the Vietnam War by wearing a black armband to class and was asked to remove it. Presenters of an ACLU webinar on Thursday night helped students understand their First Amendment right to assembly during ...
Mary Beth Tinker speaks with a group of students Saturday after her lecture at K-State. Her Supreme Court case, Tinker v. ... Mary Beth Tinker, a free speech activist, spoke Saturday at the K-State Student Union on the 49th anniversary of her Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School ...
Mary Beth Tinker spoke in the Wildcat Chamber on Feb. 24 on the constitutional rights of students and young people. Tinker is an American free speech activist known for her role in the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case, which ruled that Warren Harding Junior High School could not punish ...
At the center of the case was a 13-year-old from Des Moines named Mary Beth Tinker and her 15-year-old brother John, who were part of a group of five public school students suspended on Dec. 16, 1965, for wearing black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam. They weren't allowed to go back ...
John and Mary Beth Tinker, the named plaintiffs in that case, were 15 and 13 in 1965, when they wore black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam, violating an anti-armband policy the school board hastily put in place after learning of their plans. After a four-year court battle, the justices of the ...
Mary Beth Tinker wears a replica black arm band and holds her original 1965 detention slip during a Sept. ... In 1965, Mary Beth Tinker was 13, a middle-school student in Des Moines, Iowa, when she joined her brother and a few other students brave enough to protest racial inequality and the expanding ...
In addition to presenting at the conference, FHS students also met and engaged in a round table discussion with Mary Beth Tinker of the landmark 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker vs. Des Moines ISD. Fowler school district has embraced the new direction from the State School Board and has redesigned ...
Mary Beth Tinker actually visited the school in 2013 to talk to the students about her role in Tinker v. Des Moines, the seminal Supreme Court case around student speech and protest. As she described it to me, the school's commitment to student speech and journalism had been long in evidence, even ...
On Monday evening, Montgomery Blair high school hosted a town hall meeting for Montgomery County (MoCo) high school students to meet and talk to students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school (MSD), where the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. took place. This forum came in the wake of the ...

For example, during school hours, students cannot be punished for speaking out unless their speech disrupts the functioning of the school. This is because - as the Supreme Court recognized in a 1969 decision upholding the right of Mary Beth Tinker to wear an armband to school in protest of the Vietnam ...
Mary Beth Tinker speaks with a group of students Saturday after her lecture at K-State. Her Supreme Court case, Tinker v. ... Mary Beth Tinker, a free speech activist, spoke Saturday at the K-State Student Union on the 49th anniversary of her Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent school ...
Mary Beth Tinker spoke in the Wildcat Chamber on Feb. 24 on the constitutional rights of students and young people. Tinker is an American free speech activist known for her role in the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case, which ruled that Warren Harding Junior high school could not punish ...
Award-winning filmmaker Peter Bratt will speak and screen his new documentary, "Dolores," a portrait of United farm workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, at the K-State Alumni Center. • Mary Beth Tinker, a free speech activist, will present the lecture "The Constitutional rights ...
"Kids know a lot more than we give them credit for, and they pay attention a lot more than we realize, and they need to have a way to also express for the solutions," free speech activist Mary Beth Tinker said. The students discussed a range of topics including childhood hunger, the opioid crisis, and ...
49, 2004 N. Belt Highway. Serving tenderloins and other sandwiches. Proceeds support heart charities. "Freedom of Speech in public schools and Colleges," 7 p.m., Kemper Recital Hall, Spratt Hall, Room 101, Missouri Western State University campus. Mary Beth Tinker of the Supreme Court case Tinker v ...
A woman with significant experience fighting for freedom of speech will speak at K-State soon. Mary Beth Tinker will speak about the constitutional rights of public school students at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at K-State's Wildcat Chamber in the Student Union. Tinker won a 1969 Supreme Court case, which found ...
St. Joseph Antique Show and Vintage Mart, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Civic Arena, 100 N. Fourth St. The show features 60 dealers from around the region selling quality antiques and vintage furnishings, an extensive "For the Love of Junk" section and antique appraisals. Admission is $6 for adults and free for ...
A plaintiff in a landmark free speech case will speak at Missouri Western State University at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, in the Kemper Recital Hall, Spratt Hall room 101. "Freedom of Speech in public schools and Colleges," a presentation by Mary Beth Tinker, is free and open to the public.
student journalists and advisers from across the country raised their voices to #CureHazelwood on the Student Press Law Center's first Hazelwood Day of Action. The event included facebook Lives with the likes of student press advocates Mary Beth Tinker and Cathy Kuhlmeier Frey, a webinar on the ...
Most everyone in the legal space knows Ken White -- better known as Popehat -- and if you don't, you have some catching up to do. White, a First Amendment litigator and criminal defense attorney at L.A.'s Brown White & Osborn LLP, just launched a new podcast series on the Legal Talk Network (the ...
[In 1965], Mary Beth Tinker famously wore a black armband to school in protest of the Vietnam War, and her principal told her to take it off, and she refused. It went all the way to the Supreme Court, and [in 1969] they found in favor of Tinker, saying, I'm paraphrasing here, students don't shed their rights ...
... Mary Beth Tinker, a 13-year-old, was among several students sent home from school after refusing to remove black armbands they wore in protest of the war in Vietnam. The court ruled 7-2 that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.".
Mary Beth Tinker had been suspended from junior high in Iowa for protesting the Vietnam War by wearing a black armband. Tinker sued. The court vindicated her, saying that, In order to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, [it must be shown] that its action was caused by something more ...
The 1969 case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community school District involved the wearing of black armbands as a form of symbolic speech showing displeasure with the Vietnam War. Mary Beth Tinker, her brother John and another student wore armbands, got suspended from school, sued and ...
On Thursday, nearly 50 years after Mary Beth Tinker wore a black armband to her Iowa school to protest the Vietnam War -- and was suspended -- she appeared at a mock trial reenacting her case before students from the Washington area. In the past year, students in the area have walked out of class to ...
Activist and speaker Mary Beth Tinker was met with a round of roaring applause as she stood before a room full of Ithaca College students and community members Sept. 19. She tightly clutched a pocket-sized Constitution to her chest. "The Constitution -- small, but powerful," she said, drawing silence.
At the age of 13, Mary Beth Tinker fought a challenge to free speech that would eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. More than five decades later, she is still fighting for free speech. Tinker will give a presentation at Ithaca College on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. in Textor 102. Titled "Mighty ...
Censorious students slapped down by First Amendment legend Mary Beth Tinker ... about his op-ed is Zimmerman's description of his students recently meeting a woman whose name is a major Supreme Court precedent, Mary Beth Tinker. ... I met Mary Beth Tinker today after teaching the Tinker v.
Enter Mary Beth Tinker, a 13-year-old student at Warren Harding Junior high school in Des Moines, Iowa. Her story is recounted with care in Peter Irons' The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court, the primary source for this discussion. On December ...
Mary Beth Tinker speaks to a group of students at Prairie high school in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. Tinker was at the center of a landmark freedom of speech case decided by the Supreme Court in 1969, Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community school District, which held that Tinker ...
Mary Beth Tinker wears a replica black arm band and holds her original 1965 detention slip during a Sept. ... In 1965, Mary Beth Tinker was 13, a middle-school student in Des Moines, Iowa, when she joined her brother and a few other students brave enough to protest racial inequality and the expanding ...
John and Mary Beth Tinker, the named plaintiffs in that case, were 15 and 13 in 1965, when they wore black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam, violating an anti-armband policy the school board hastily put in place after learning of their plans. After a four-year court battle, the justices of the ...
Plus, Mary Beth Tinker, of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community school District, joins us for an inspiring message on student free speech. Join Slate Plus to Hear More Trumpcast. Slate Plus members get extended, ad-free episodes of Slate's Trumpcast every week. Membership costs just $35 for ...
At the center of the case was a 13-year-old from Des Moines named Mary Beth Tinker and her 15-year-old brother John, who were part of a group of five public school students suspended on Dec. 16, 1965, for wearing black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam. They weren't allowed to go back ...
Mary Beth Tinker donned a black armband to protest the Vietnam War when she went to school. She was a 13-year-old junior high school student with a voice. But school administrators suspended her, and her voice reached the Supreme Court. When they enter the school gates, the Court held, students do ...
In late 1965, a 13-year-old student named Mary Beth Tinker wore a black armband to Warren Harding Junior high school in Des Moines, Iowa, to support a truce in the Vietnam War. The school suspended Mary Beth Tinker for violating a a policy the district had enacted to forbid just such protests. Through ...
Tinker was 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker, one of five students who in 1965 were suspended for wearing black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. Four years later the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 7-to-2 vote for Tinker, affirming the principle that schoolchildren do not "shed their constitutional ...
John Tinker and Christopher Eckhardt were high school students; Mary Beth Tinker an eighth-grader. Upon hearing about their plan to wear ...
"Nobody gets to decide how we express our patriotism," student speech activist Mary Beth Tinker told The 74 on Friday. "Nobody gets to force ...
Mary Beth Tinker of the landmark Tinker vs. Des Moines Supreme Court case was invited up onstage by LoMonte and encouraged students to ...
Allison Beth Krause, 19 years old, and Mary Beth Tinker, who was only 13, were each opposed to the Vietnam War; they expressed it differently ...
Mary Beth Tinker, an advocate for youth rights and the freedom of speech, spoke to the Ithaca College community about her past experiences ...


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