Tinker Assembly at Manhasset High School

In December 1965, siblings John, Mary Beth, Hope, and Paul Tinker, along with their friend Christopher Eckhart in Des Moines, Iowa planned to wear black armbands to school. These black armbands symbolized mourning and was a form of protest against the Vietnam War. When the school found out about the plan, the principals of the Des Moines school warned them not to wear the black armbands and threatened them with suspension. However, on December 16th Mary Beth Tinker and Christopher Eckhart ignored the warning and wore the black armbands to school. As a result, they were sent home. The next day, John Tinker wore his black armband to school and was also sent home. During their suspension, the Tinker parents and Christopher Eckhart’s parents sued the school for violating the children’s right to freedom of speech. The district court ruled the armbands disruptive to the learning environment, and subsequently, the Tinker and Eckart parents lost. Unrelenting, they took the case to the Supreme Court. In 1969, in the Tinker v. Des Moines case, the students won in a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling. The court agreed that “students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the school house gates.”

Mary Beth Tinker started the “Tinker Tour” to spread her story in order to promote young voices and freedom of speech. On Wednesday, March 9th, the Tinker case was brought to light at Manhasset High School, sponsored by the Social Studies Honor Society. Mary Beth Tinker talked about the case and of the other students who took action, ending with the idea that students have the same rights as everyone else, including adults, and that they should petition for anything they aren’t happy with.


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