Tinker Tour Session Descriptions


 General Presentation  (virtual for 2021-22 school year)

Over fifty years ago, in 1965, 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker was part of a small group of students in Des Moines, Iowa who made history by wearing black armbands to school to mourn the dead in the Vietnam War and call for a Christmas truce.  After being suspended for their actions, the students eventually won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, with the Court declaring in 1969 that neither teachers or students “shed their Constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Today,  the Tinker ruling continues to protect students’ rights, and has been cited by judges in almost 6,000 student cases.  It is included in most American civics and history textbooks.

Join Mary Beth on a virtual “Tinker Tour” as she shares her story and those of other young people, and hears how young voices that are making a difference. Basic civics will be front and center!

Suitable for all audiences, this talk is generally scheduled for 45-60 minutes, including Q & A period. 


Mary Beth Tinker talks to students during the Tinker Tour's national free speech/press and civics education bus tour.

Mary Beth Tinker talks with students (pre- Covid) about the five freedoms of the First Amendment during the Tinker Tour’s national free speech/press and civics education bus tour.











“A La Carte” Events

The Law and Life After Tinker (virtual

The 1969 Supreme Court Tinker decision is commonly acknowledged as something of a high-watermark for student free speech rights in America.  This session will address the Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood decision and other cases involving student media, as well as off-campus and Internet-based student expression.    45-50 minutes, mostly discussion.


Cathy Kuhlmeier, from "Hazelwood" joins Mary Beth at National Council for Social Studies conference, St. Louis, 2013

Cathy Kuhlmeier-Frey, of “Hazelwood,” joins Mary Beth at National Council for Social Studies conference, St. Louis









Follow up Discussion

It’s not often you get to talk to someone straight out of your history book. Join Mary Beth after her general presentation for a follow-up discussion about her experience, and yours. Court rulings since Tinker and current students’ rights issues will be addressed.

 Dayton Academy, OH

Dayton Academy, OH








Tinker Tour Roundtable 

What issues are most important to you and your classmates, locally and globally? What can be done? What are you doing? Do you feel free to talk about and address these issues? How are you using the First Amendment? The focus is on you!

Students share their concerns during roundtable talk during the Tinker Tour's Oct. 17 stop at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, Wisc.

Students share their thoughts as part of a pre- Covid roundtable talk at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, Wisc.




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Click here for Mary Beth’s bio and photo.

Click here for the Tinker Tour Media Kit.

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