Mary Beth Tinker visits Lamar Life class


Mary Beth Tinker, of the Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case, paid a virtual visit to the Lamar Life class, speaking of her experience fighting for student rights.

In 1965, Tinker was one of five students to wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. After getting suspended, Tinker sued the school for violating her First Amendment right, which was then brought before the Supreme Court. This case was a landmark case that established precedent for public school students’ First Amendment rights.

“I think it went very well,” Lamar Life assistant editor Kathryn Stone said. “It was great to have her come speak; I know I learned a lot. I hope the other students learned a lot as well. I think it was super eye-opening for the class, especially to see that this is an issue someone can face no matter how young they are, and how important it is to fight for their rights.”

Stone reached out to Tinker to see if she was available to give a guest lecture to the Lamar Life class.

“After we faced some issues with censorship within this publication, I realized how important it was for our class to know about their First Amendment rights and to hear a firsthand account of fighting for those rights,” Stone said. “I wanted to turn this incident into a learning opportunity and I wanted to show the staff that they have rights, despite being students.”

Tinker’s talk was a both educational and encouraging to the students, who asked many questions. 

“She was so inspiring,” sophomore Gray Siegel said. “She taught me the true power of my voice and how just speaking confidently for what you believe in can make a great change on your community.”

Her experience, which is still used by courts today to determine whether schools may infringe upon students’ First Amendment rights, provided a unique lesson for the students.

“I really liked her visit,” senior Mikal Nazarani said. “I’m glad we got the opportunity to talk to her and learn about her experience with this issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent.”