An ACLU Hero: Mary Beth Tinker

In 1965, Mary Beth Tinker, her brother, and several of their classmates decided to wear black armbands to school to support peace and protest the Vietnam War. The school board, having received word of the protest, passed a preemptive ban of the armbands. When the students arrived in their armbands anyway, they were suspended and told they could not return to school until they removed their armbands. While the students eventually did remove the armbands they did wear all black for the remainder of the year.

Represented by the ACLU, the Tinkers embarked on a four-year court battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court, culminating in the landmark decision that “students do no shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

40 years later, the fight to protect our constitutional rights to free speech and youth rights continue. As our founder Roger Baldwin said, “no fight for civil liberties ever stays won” and this is why Mary Beth Tinker is such a true hero... now a registered nurse, she is still actively speaking out and educating students about their rights across the country.

Please come celebrate the anniversary of this Supreme Court decision and Mary Beth’s dedication to freedom of expression at our benefit reception.