“Who here knows all six parts of the first amendment?” Mary Beth Tinker asked the crowd at Christopher Columbus High School. They proceeded to list them together: “Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assembly, and right to petition the government.”
“Congratulations,” Tinker continued. “You’re more informed than more than ninety percent of Americans.”
This statistic is what led Mary Beth Tinker, the plaintiff of a landmark 1960s Supreme Court case on free speech, to Christopher Columbus High School.
“I came to Christopher Columbus High School because I wanted to tell students stories of students who stood up and made a difference.” said Tinker, first amendment free speech activist. “I also came because I wanted to hear what the students have had to say about this matter here at the school.”
Tinker was a crucial part to the Mary Beth vs Des Moines case as a student, where she was fighting for students to have the right to wear armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. This case was the beginning to first amendment rights in the schools systems to this day in age. Schools must be able to allow students into their facilities no matter of: race, religion, and one’s certain situation.
In her visit she gave the students real life examples of students and young people, from the past and present, standing up in what they believe in. Most of them have ideas that seem outlandish and their options are not always well received by others, but they know if they want to make a change they have to speak up and let other people know about their stance.
“I think she did a good job in remaining unbiased and really showing that you don’t have to push a certain agenda.” said Andre Madrid, Christopher Columbus High School Student. “With so many different opinions being thrown from each direction, I think that it is very important to understand that we have to consider them all.”
After her visit to the school, Tinker will continue her tour around the country spreading knowledge on the first amendment. Helping students, and kids all over the nation learn about their rights to free speech and free expression and help give voices to those who ant to be heard and what to make a difference. Expressing what you believe in has gotten us to this point today and given us the freedoms and protected the rights that we have had all along. That’s the message Mary Beth Tinker continues to preach today.
Written By: Javier Rodriguez
Edited By: Anthony Fernandez
Filmed By: Jose Vazquez and Justin Jackson