February 24 – This Day in History in 1969: Tinker v. Des Moines Case Wins Free Speech Rights for Students

February 24, 2014

By Mary Beth Tinker

TinkerVDesMoines2A 6th grader in Texas with the user name “Gummy Bear” pops onto my laptop screen. She’s doing a National History Day project about “rights and responsibilities” that highlights the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines that I was a plaintiff in.

She wants to know why I wore a black armband to school in 8th grade in 1965, and why the court ruled on February 24, 1969, that neither students nor teachers “shed their Constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

I’ll talk about Mississippi Freedom Summer, which my parents took part in in 1964. Thanks to Professor Kristi Bowman, I know now how significant it was in the Tinkerruling, especially the “material and substantial disruption” exemption for student speech.

To read the full article, visit the Zinn Education Project Web site….

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