Mary Beth Tinker grew up in Iowa, where her father was a Methodist minister. In 1965, saddened by news of the Vietnam War, Mary Beth and other students wore black armbands to school to mourn the dead and call for a Christmas truce. For that, they were suspended. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the suspensions in court, leading to a landmark 1969 Supreme Court ruling for students’ rights in “Tinker vs Des Moines” that neither teachers nor students “shed their constitutional rights… at the schoolhouse gate.” Since then the Tinker ruling has been cited in more than 6,000 cases involving students’ rights. Mary Beth lives in Washington DC, but travels the country on a “Tinker Tour” to promote civics education, student journalism, youth rights and youth voices. She is a Registered Nurse with master’s degrees in nursing and public health.
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