Episode 8: Friendship

March 7, 2019

Quill and Scroll interviews John and Mary Beth Tinker

We’ve been focusing this year on the eight guiding principles for our organization. Our initiation ceremony notes that “Friendship is the link that binds humanity.” Like Aristotle, we recognize the importance of friendship and the synergy it brings to the journalistic endeavor.

In late February, Nichole Shaw had the chance to meet with two siblings — two of scholastic journalism’s best friends, John and Mary Beth Tinker.

The names should ring a bell. The Tinkers, along with John’s friend Christopher Eckhardt, in 1965 were suspended from their Des Moines, Iowa schools because they wanted to protest the Vietnam War. They proposed wearing black armbands emblazoned with a peace symbol. With the help of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, they sued the school district. The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where in February 1969 the justices ruled in favor of the Tinkers. The “Tinker Case” has forever burned in our minds the sentence: “Students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Last month the Tinkers set out on a 50th anniversary celebration of that decision. Nichole Shaw spoke with them in the studios of KRUI, the student radio station at the University of Iowa.

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