Mary Beth Tinker virtually visits AP Gov classroom



Mary Beth Tinker

AP Government students took a virtual field trip via Zoom with Mary Beth Tinker, a woman who protested the Vietnam War and took part in historic 1969 Supreme Court ruling that gave students the right to free speech in public schools.

Tinker was 13 years old when her and four others decided to wear black armbands to school to protest the war in Vietnam in December 1965. The school board banned the armbands, and the students were suspended.

“She just wanted to stop violence and speak up for kid’s rights,” explained Brooke Howry. “She said it wasn’t political.”

Soon after, Tinker and her comrades filed a First Amendment Lawsuit that resulted in a 7-2 ruling that students’ right to free speech should not be censored unless it disrupts the educational process.

Students were able to hear Tinker’s story firsthand and ask questions. She elaborated on the Tinker vs. Des Moines hearing as well as how her family was involved in other historical movements, such as Civil Rights, and more recently Black Lives Matter.

According to Noah Hamilton, Tinker was a Quaker which inclined her to approach protesting in a more peaceful manner, both then and today.

“Politically she stands with those who are going to be good for the kids and good for minorities,” he added.