Hello friends and fellow First Amendment Freedom Lovers!
As you know, it is Mary Beth Tinker’s and my dream to travel the country to talk with young people about the power — the incredible POWER — of young voices.
Change has always started with young people bringing fresh, new, imaginative ideas to help mend outdated ways of thinking and doing. Old problems are not going to be fixed by old solutions. That much is for sure. We see that playing out now, every day. Old systems — political, financial, environmental — fearfully and desperately clinging to their old ways, while humanity pays the price. The world has always depended on young people to move us forward. Whether it was in the 1960’s in this country or today in places like Egypt, Iran and the Ukraine (please check out this video!), young people — speaking out and working with others — are the seeds of change that create new solutions and offer new, more hopeful ways of being in the world.
Mary Beth and I are not deluded. The Tinker Tour is a drop in the bucket. Many of you have devoted your lives to working with young people. And though you know your work will not fix all the world’s problems you keep doing it because you believe that a drop here and a drop there will make a difference. By encouraging young people to speak out, supporting them, showing them examples, teaching them how to use their new speech tools effectively — you believe — and we believe — it adds up.
As Mary Beth shared with more than 20,000 people last fall while touring the eastern half of the country, she was a shy 13-year old girl who helped change the world with a simple, black armband. She tells the story of how — on one December morning in Des Moines, Iowa, nearly 50 years ago — encouraged by her family, civil right heroes she saw on TV and other young people — she summoned just the tiny bit of courage she had and took a stand. Today, young people have speech tools that are more powerful than anything that young girl could ever have imagined. And they are anxious — in both senses of that word — to use them.
We saw what it meant to students (and teachers) to meet someone straight out of their textbook, someone who was once much like them and whose message today — Say What You Need To Say — resonates fiercely. I witnessed it at every stop as young people — particularly young women — circled Mary Beth following our talk. I worked on free speech and press issues for the Student Press Law Center for more than 20 years — and I’d never seen anything approaching that sort of enthusiasm. Young people know things need to change. Their future depends on it. And so many want to help. We hope the Tinker Tour might be part of encouraging them to do so.
We are in the final hours of our fundraising campaign for the spring Tinker Tour, which will cover the western half of the country — and make two international stops. We are about $5,000 short of hitting our goal of $25,000, which we must reach by 6 pm Pacific Time Friday (March 7) to keep any of the money. Mary Beth and I are prepared to donate the remainder. We believe in what we’re doing. But we have our own bills to pay and so we’re asking for your help — in whatever way you can — even if it’s just taking a moment to share our message with others.
We are grateful.