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tv   Student Free Speech Tinker v. Des Moines Anniversary  CSPAN  March 2, 2019 12:31pm-1:31pm EST

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you. [applause] we are going to take an hour break for lunch. those of you who ordered your lunches, they are here. they will be outside in the lobby with your names on it. it is alphabetized. is as from this theater large room where you can go and enjoy your lunch leisurely. we will reconvene here with the cameras rolling at 1:30. thank you so much. enjoy your lunch. yes? >> [indiscernible] one for you. hang around the lunch table. [laughter] [crowd talking] this is american history tv on c-span3.
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we will return live with more speakers who will look at civil war military history and the causes of war. hour we lookext back to supreme court case of tinker v des moines, which ruled students do not lose their first amendment rights on school grounds. the state historical society of iowa marked the 50th anniversary of the decision with an event featuring mary beth tinker and her brother john, to as teenagers wore black armbands to school to protest the vietnam war. [applause] >> welcome to this special presentation celebrating the 50th anniversary of an important milestone in u.s. history and per first amendment rights. we are joining you live from the
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auditorium of the state historical society in iowa, in des moines. with us today are more than 200 students from across the state. we are joined by students from classrooms across the country. say hello, everybody. >> hello. [applause] >> in december, 1965, mary beth and john tinker, along with their friend christopher eckert wore black armbands to school to protest the war in vietnam. they were sent home and suspended from school. they were told they could not return to school until they agreed to end their protest. through their parents, the students sued the school for violating their right to free expression. their four-year court battle culminated in the landmark u.s.
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supreme court decision 50 years ago on february 24, 1969. the court ruled 7-2 that students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. since that time, mary beth and john have been advocates for student free speech. we are fortunate to have them here today to share their story. after their presentation, we will invite our audience to ask questions. for those watching outside this venue, share your questions on twitter with #tinkerversary. or, go online to please join me in welcoming john
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and mary beth tinker. [applause] >> thank you, thank you, thank you, everybody. thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you so much, kay, and thank you to the state historical society in iowa and to all of you following us online. we are so happy to be here with all of you today. right, john? >> it is a great honor and privilege to be with so many people who are celebrating the first amendment rights, especially those of students in the schools. this is a very powerful moment. for me personally to be participating in this. thank you for inviting me. i also want to mention the national history day, which has done so much to promote student awareness and student activism.
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>> and we will have a chance to meet some of the national history day students in a little bit. we are going to meet some of the students taking our country toward ideals of equal justice under the law and equality for all. that is what you have done all throughout the ages. we are honored to be with you to do that. and honor our family's story. our parents stood up for what was right. they weren't always so popular for doing this. we are going to tell you the story of how this all happened. should we get started? >> let's get started. >> first of all, we were kids growing up. of course, we had wonderful qualities like all of you. we had creativity and talent and potential but we needed our , rights in order to unlock all of those potentials. and what are our first amendment again? somebody tell me the rights.
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freedom of speech! freedom of the press! freedom of religion! freedom of assembly! and the very last, freedom of petition! let's hear it for the first amendment. [applause] all right. oh, they are so cute. this is us growing up in iowa. we did not know our first amendment rights back then, did we, john? john: not too well at this age, that's for sure. mary: there is john on the left. he is so cute. and leonard, he is here today . thanks for coming today. i am in the middle. and here is hope, bonnie, and our parents. paul was not born yet but you will see paul later. paul is here, too. growing up, we had a foundation of speaking up for things, and we had so many great friends.
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one of them was john's good friend. and our family friends the , griffins. edna griffin was an amazing woman. she was a really good friend of our mother's. she had already won in iowa a supreme court case against discrimination. we are so happy today that we will have some students from did a report who on that. please welcome lauren johnson. and grace. come on up, you two. [applause] >> my name is grace and this is lauren johnson. we're here to talk about our experience at the national history day project. when choosing our topic, we wanted to focus on activists in history that truly made a difference throughout communities in iowa, and that is is where we found edna griffin.
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edna griffin was a brave woman who fought for equal rights of all organizations and races. she took action for justice. on july 7, 1948, she was denied service at katz drugstore on the grounds of her race. she filed a lawsuit and took her case all the way to the iowa supreme court where the court ruled in her favor. she helped established laws that made it illegal to deny service based on race. we wrote the play to present our information. two other people who were not able to be here with us today helped us. in our play, we focused on reenacting the conflict at the drugstore and the civil trial. our performance advanced to a state contest where we won two awards. the african-american history award, and the proud award. we were lucky enough to perform our play at the edna griffin legacy awards and celebration
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dinner last summer. while in des moines, we visited the edna griffin building, which was once katz drugstore. edna griffin truly inspired us. she used her rights and the law to make des moines a better place for everyone. when we look at our lives, we want to continue her legacy. maybe that's why standing up for injustice that we see around us or something as simple as showing respect and acceptance. the play really helped us speak out about things around us that we see that we don't agree with. the celebration dinner really highlighted edna griffin's legacy. we chose edna griffin and hoped to share her story and the special work she accomplished. she is an example in our lives. she stood up for the rights of others, so why can't we? changing society is a lifetime journey we are all responsible for. help me welcome stanley griffin, edna griffin's son.
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[applause] mr. griffin: thank you very much. it is an honor to be here today. i'm touched by that speech. it's like, that is what mother really wanted. she wanted to leave a legacy in the area of human and civil rights. we are talking about her accomplishments with the drugstore case but i want you , to know who was my mother. she was the number-one mother in the world to myself. i played cello through school accompanist. a she stood up for union rights in iowa. she stood up for meat packers and tried to organize them in 1947. the work i want you to know that she did back then foreshadowed the modern civil rights movement
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as you know it today. my mother was very bold. she was a force in action. and i think she wants to transfer that to all of you kids. everybody can make a difference. she helped with farm organizations. i grew up with farmers and she helped them organize a case against safeway stores. i want to let you know, but she was more than just one thing. she was complicated and brilliant. she graduated from high school at 14 years old and moved on from there and dedicated her life to civil and human rights, gay rights the work that i stand , proud to represent the griffin family. one other thing. my dad, dr. stanley griffin. he was the foundation of our family. -- working being a
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for himself, mother could not do what she did because we would have gotten fired and not had any employment. stand up for what is right. always remember my mother, and one last thing, a little plug, if you want to learn more about mom, if you google edna griffin, iowa, you will get a lot of hits. we are writing a book right now so there will be a lot more about it. we want to help kid just like you and others excel. white, black, everybody. thank you very much. mary: thank you. thank you. thank you. [applause] mary: thank you so much, stanley, lauren, grace, for sharing that story about edna griffin. she was such an influence on our lives. as young people take us toward our democratic ideals, there are people that help us along the way as examples and edna griffin was one of the
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great examples to us. around the time that this was going on and we were growing up, there is edna and stanley, there were other things going on in the country that were making us very sad, that other people were standing up and speaking up about. one of those things was going on in birmingham, alabama. here are some students that were there. again, taking us toward ideals, and dealing with issues of racial justice, which our case is so grounded in. this was the example we were following. these kids were in birmingham. around 2000 kids marched and sang songs like "this little light of mine, i'm going to let it shine." they were marching and singing for justice. and -- what happened, john? some people weren't too happy about that. john: no, this was the ku klux klan. they were not interested in
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racial justice. they were interested in whites only. a movement had to rise up to oppose that. if there hadn't been a movement of people to oppose that, it's still the world we would live in today so we're very happy. mary: we are happy young people stood up and opposed it. and many adults as well and we were part of speaking up. the ku klux klan had a plan to punish the little children for speaking up for democracy. they planted a bomb in their church on sunday morning. the headquarters was at a -- at the 16th street baptist church. they put a bomb in their church in 1963. i was 10 years old. john was 12. four little girls' bodies were found in the church. cynthia, addie mae, carol, and denise. we were so sad about that. like today, what's driving a lot
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of young people to speak up. and stand up. it is probably sadness and grief. it was a feeling that the world wasn't the way it could be and that we could do better. in des moines, edna griffin started a a group called the congress of racial equality. people around the country had services to mourn for the little girls. we had one here in des moines. we finally see our little brother there. john: stanleyere mentioned our families grew up together. here you see our brother paul. this is phyllis griffin, linda griffin, and our departed bonnie. mary: our sweet sister bonnie who died in a bike accident. i should've given you credit for that shot. photojournalist.
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this was the first time we had a chance to wear black armbands and we experienced black arm bad bands for being sad. it goes way back through history. it shows that you are sad. there are all of us girls wearing black armbands. it showed how sad we were about the birmingham children being killed, and that we could do something about it. john: this memorial service took place at the capital. mary beth we're about two blocks : from that right here in des moines. the next year was also an amazing year for young people speaking up and standing up. this time it was in mississippi for mississippi freedom summer. that summer, only about 3% or 4% of african-americans were registered to vote in mississippi and throughout much of the south because of the terror of the ku klux klan. young people again spoke up and lead the way as young people do.
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to speak up for justice and equality and democracy. it was called freedom summer, 1964. john: our parents participated in that, and our older brother, leonard. mary beth: our father was a methodist minister and we later became involved with the quakers. they said don't wait for the happened to put your values and action. let's do it now on earth. take action. speak up for love in all the things they preach in all religions. these people were doing that putting love into action , and speaking up. using their first amendment rights. when they got there, many of them immediately disappeared. cheney, shorter and goodman. goodman, cheney, and michael swarner. everyone suspected that the ku klux klan had them, but they kept searching for them.
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on august 4, the fbi found the bodies of the three. it was a very sad time that summer. on the same day, something else sad happened that would change so many lives in the united states forever. off the gulf of tonkin off the coast of vietnam, a u.s. navy ship claimed it had been attacked. it turns out it hadn't been attacked, but it didn't stop the u.s. congress from voting almost unanimously to send thousands of troops to vietnam. that's really when it got started. it was already going on, but more in secret by lyndon johnson. but after august 4, all of this was going on at the same time and those mighty times that are so much like our times that you are living in today. students in mississippi didn't think that was right. they spoke up. they used their first amendment rights. they wore these buttons to
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school that said "one man, one vote, sncc, student nonviolent coordinating committee." and they were suspended from school for doing that. it was a black school, a segregated school, and they were suspended. a court case came about called burnside versus myers. we had no idea that case was going to influence all of our lives and all of the lives all of you students who are watching this have today. because this is the case that established the substantial disruption standard in schools. you have free speech rights, but you cannot substantially disrupt school. because the kids in mississippi eventually won their case and the court said they had the right to wear those buttons and exercise their first amendment rights because they didn't substantially disrupt school. that is where the standard comes from.
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also set things continuing. now on the news, what do we see? john: this is a picture from the war in vietnam. during the war in vietnam, we were confronted with pictures like this on our television sets every night. there were pictures of people that had been napalmed, pictures of villagers that had been burned down. mary beth: what was napalmed? john: gasoline that had things added to it to make it like a jelly so when the bomb blows up and the jelly gasoline sprays out, it sticks to your skin and it burns you up. it sticks to everything. it burns up your home. it burns of the people. it burns up mothers and babies. we saw it every night in black and white. this happened and we watched it
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over and over again and we did not know what to do about it. there was a large march on washington. i went on the march to washington. on the way back, we discussed what we could do to protest the war. a man on the bus said he heard people were going to wear black armbands to protest the war. the black armband is an old traditional symbol of mourning. people for hundreds of years wore black armbands when a member of the family had died and they wanted to indicate to society that they were in a period of mourning. we decided to wear black ngmbands to express our mourni for the deaths on both sides of the conflict in vietnam. and we were trying to encourage the adoption of robert kennedy's call for a christmas truce that year in 1965.
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well, when the school system found out we were going to wear black armbands, the principals got together and banned the wearing of black armbands. we did not know what to do but we felt out of conscience we had to do it. and we grew up in the des moines school system. in the des moines school system, we were taught that america is a free country and that in a free country, we have freedom of speech. we felt we had the right to wear the black armbands. i think we understood we did not have the right to disrupt the school so we adopted this black piece of cloth. it does not make any noise at all but it just represents a belief and our belief was that the war in vietnam was wrong. when we got kicked out of school we appealed it to the school board.
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this is marybeth, our mother. behind her, our father, leonard. and chris singer to his right. also he see the black armband. i am back behind her somewhere. i was not in the shot. we all attended the school board meeting, and the school board decided to support the principals. so we had been kicked out of , school. lawyer but was then the iowa civil liberties union, now the american civil liberties union iowa chapter, recommended we go back to school without the armbands on so we would not complicate our case with children see issues and that we , sue the school system for violating our first amendment rights. that is what we did.
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we lost at the district court. judge stevenson felt it was a first amendment issue, a free speech issue, but that school authorities had a right to make a rule about that. so we lost our case at the federal district court level. we appealed it to the circuit court in st. louis. normally in the circuit court, the case is heard by a three-judge panel. three-judge panel, because of the myers opinion where the students had won that case -- >> in mississippi. john: they thought the whole court should hear the case but they were short one judge, so instead
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of nine they only had eight, and those eight judges split in their decision 4-4. that made it much more likely that the supreme court would hear the case to clear up the conflict at the circuit court level. so we appealed to the supreme court. >> how many cases a year does the supreme court take? not many. john you tell me. : mary beth: they take about 80 cases out of 10,000. john: less than 1%. mary beth: but they thought this was an important case. because it had to do with student speech rights and there had only been one case. west virginia versus barnett, in 1943. that ruled that students could not be forced to say the pledge of allegiance in public schools. that was the only case having to do with student speech before. john: by the way, they determined that case in 1943 in the middle of a war.
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they stood up for a student's right not to say the pledge of allegiance. that was a very strong case. in our case the judges also split, but it was a 7-2 split and we won. it was a very resounding victory for student rights. in our case it was the first time the court said students in public schools are persons under the constitution and are endowed with first amendment rights. so, that has been the rule now for the past almost exactly 50 years, and it has really empowered student voices. in our case, the majority opinion was written by a justice fortis, and he rallied all of the opinions supporting free speech in a democracy. it's a wonderful decision. if you have the opportunity, look it up because it's a very
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strong argument for freedom of speech. and beyond that he argues that , in the schools it's especially important because students are going to grow up to be global citizens and it's important that wedents do not think that don't believe the first amendment, that it is just a window dressing, but that we be sincere in our support. it's a very strong opinion. mary beth: well, not everybody was so happy about us standing up and speaking up for peace. and as some of them sent us mail like this postcard telling us we were communists. and they threw red paint at our house. a lady even called me and threatened to kill me. others stood up for us and said we should have first amendment rights.
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and this is around the time that we actually lost. i am not sure why we are smiling, but that was at the appeals court. when we lost the case, and and chris eckert was there with us. the third plaintiff. then the happy day, february 24, which we are celebrating this weekend and all year. 2019 will be the 50th anniversary of this day when the supreme court said of by 7-2 that neither students nor teachers leave their first amendment right to free expression at the schoolhouse gate. and one of my favorite parts of the ruling is that students are persons. do you like being persons, everybody? kind of a nice. who likes that? come on, let's hear it. [applause] mary beth: nothing like being a person with the rights of
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democracy. and we are celebrating that today. thank you all for being with us to help celebrate. i think we will go ahead and open it up for questions. [applause] mary beth: here is to the first amendment. alright. yay. you, john and mary beth. as mary beth mentioned, it is time for you now. for those watching the event live, share your questions on twitter using #tinkerversary or through our online forum. but we are going to start with a question from the students who are here with us in the room. does anyone have a question? >> stand up and ask your
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question please. i am from sioux city west. i was talking to my teacher during lunch, and he brought up an interesting point that i think goes along with the first amendment. in these more modern times where social media is used, how does that play into the first amendment? mary beth: social media is so important, a great way to speak up and stand up for things you believe in. there has not been a case at the supreme court having to do with student speech and social media, but there has been a case around adults and facebook, and the court was very protective of the rights in that case. but i think it is only a matter of time before it does make it to the supreme court.
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of course, with social media we want to be respectful of how we use that. we want to make the world better and not more dangerous. >> i want to say something regarding speech generally, and it applies to social media. questions around social media has to do with implied threats and harassment. and i think you're going to find that speech is distinguished between speech which is expressing an idea and speech which is more or less an assault. now currently an assault is , defined as a physical assault, but if you have ever been verbally assaulted, you understand it has a physical effect. and hate speech has a physical effect. it can also encourage physical violence. real, physical violence. so my view and expectation is that speech will be
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distinguished more -- for instance, i cannot walk into a bank and say "give me your money" and then claim that was free speech. i can't rob a person with my speech. likewise, i think it's going to be distinguished between assaultive speech and speech which is conveying an idea. mary beth: there is no legal definition of hate speech. and i believe, along with many others, that the limit to speech that is not covered should be physical violence. in schools it is a little different because we have to maintain an environment where everyone feels safe. so with certain cases so there , was a case in san diego where a student wore a shirt that said "god is ashamed of your homosexuality" and the court ruled against that. because that impinges on the
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rights of others. in the tinker case, they said there were things you cannot do with free speech. you cannot cause substantial disruption is in school. and number two, you cannot impinge on the rights of others, whatever that means. and that has been debated ever since. but sometimes the courts can curtail your right to free speech. let's hear another one. john: at the lower court, some of the social media cases have been regarding claimed disruption in the school because of speech that occurred on the internet. and so i think that is one of the tough issues. mary beth: there are a lot of mixed rulings about that. sometimes the students have prevailed and sometimes not depending on the threat of violence involved. >> speaking of social media we , have a question on twitter. how did your friends and teachers treat you when you wore those armbands?
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mary beth: my teachers were pretty nice about it. my friends were not hostile to me. i would have to say that they were fine. also more ornds less supported me. i will tell you a story. i was having lunch -- i went the first three periods of the day and nobody said anything about my black armband. well, my friends mentioned it, but i wasn't reported to the office. none of the teachers -- if the teachers saw it, one in particular i am thinking about, he didn't report it. after gym class, i put my clothes back on, put the black armband over my white shirt, i didn't put my jacket back on. and it stood out really well. so, i went to the lunch room like that. and i ate lunch with my friends. they were discussing it. it wasn't a big deal, really.
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and some kids came over and started harassing me. they were calling me a communist, a coward. that i wasn't patriotic. and they were just harassing me. and a football player came over, and i didn't really know him at the time. i know him better now, but i didn't know him at the time. he said to the kids who were harassing me, look, you have your opinion about the war. john has his opinion about the war. john has a right to his opinion. leave him alone. i thought that was excellent to have a football player come over. mary beth: come on, everybody. come on. [applause] standing up for your rights. >> we have another question from
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twitter, this is from ashley. she joined us on the online forum. she is from a high school in connecticut. she asked, how did being involved in this at a young age affect and change your life? mary beth: it has changed both of our lives. we have been given the opportunity to spend time with young people, like today, encouraging young people. it has been a great privilege. john: ashley, it affected my life, i am sure. when you have done something significant at a young age you feel like you need to do something else or that is the only thing you will be -- the only thing you will have accomplished. i remained a lifelong peace activist. it is still my major identification, as an activist. i am still very opposed to militarism. i think a large military budget is detrimental to our society and is preventing us from addressing real issues that we have.
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andthe case of -- the case winning it at a young age gave me confidence to chart my own course. and i have done that and i'm very happy i was able to do that. it has given both of us the opportunity to speak to students, teachers, and administrators. i speak regularly with school -- with graduate school classes of administrators. i am very blessed to have that kind of contact and influence. >> let's take a question from the audience. raise your hand if you have one, please. and we will throw that microphone to you. >> my name is stephen. what are your thoughts on the current problems, especially on college campuses, of groups of students actively promoting violence to censor speakers they
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may not agree with and violating the first amendment of the opposite side of the spectrum. that has become a huge issue right now. mary beth: i am against censorship of speech at college campuses. [laughter] john: i am sorry, i didn't -- mary beth: colleges should be places where people can speak, engage, and have dialogue. i think that's very, very important. >> should we take another question from twitter? mary beth: sure. >> ruby gonzales from brownsville, texas asks, what advice would you give to students who might be hesitant to speak up at school for fear of retribution from the school? john? of retribution in
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the form of violence? mary beth: we were afraid when we wore our armbands. i was. i was in eighth grade and i was really shy. as i i had it in my pocket was walking to school. i was afraid of what somebody on the street might do. when i was walking to school. mary beth: but we had examples in our lives. we had the birmingham kids. they were killed for speaking up for what they believed in. find other people who care about the issue you care about. find out what is already going on in that issue. when you do, it makes life so meaningful and interesting. some days, even fun. too, i want to point out, we were not isolated individuals. we were part of the peace movement. in our childhood, we grew up surrounded by the peace movement. we were immersed in the peace movement. and we knew we had the support
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of adults around us. we knew there was a philosophical basis and a moral basis for what we were doing and lent us strength to do what we did. mary beth: i have felt isolated and alone at times, for sure, because of things i cared about. try to find at least one other person, maybe in your school, your community. find a friend to stand by you and that can make all the difference. >> ok, des moines, we are looking at you. raise your hand. do you have a question? has been thrown. >> i am michael rosenberg. and i wanted to know, what was what kind of -- reaction to do get in the community from your protest? some people in the
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community were very supportive and some were very angry. they misunderstood the idea of patriotism, i think. some people think patriotism means just following the policy your government, politicians, et cetera have decided. and that is where the school board president made his mistake also. he said in the morning register, our government has made a decision about vietnam and we should follow it. that's not democracy. and really, this is a story of journalism also, because there were so many journalists that spoke up and covered this case. our role in democracy is not to just follow what has been decided. it is also to think about things and criticize the decisions of politicians and the government when we feel they have gone astray. of the new ward 1965, fervor had really ramped up. people were being told by the media that if we did not stop
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the north vietnamese, how they would be attacking california. it was called the domino theory. and so, people whose information was only coming through the established media channels that were receiving most of their information via the white house or the state department, they felt that we were destroying their country. they were afraid of people like us. and that is why there was so much anger directed toward the peace movement. you cowards. you communists. how could you do this to our country? but people who had a broader sense of what was going on and had a knowledge of history, i think, and a sense of their own humanity and the rightness of humanity, of conscience, we got support from them.
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broad and people acted or reacted in different ways depending on where they came from. mary beth: and as concerns about the war grew over the years, more and more members of the military spoke up for peace. i think that is what really toped to into the war -- end the war. it wasn't just students. soldiers as well. by 1969 when we won the case, it was kind of hard to be really happy about our victory because it was one of the worst years for the war, but so many soldiers were also speaking up. john: the soldiers were coming back and they knew what the war was. they had seen it. they had witnessed it with their own eyes. and so the soldiers that came
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back and said no, this is not like we're being told it is. they really did swing at the of the public and by 1969, the curve had shifted much more toward the antiwar position. >> we have a question from mary who submitted this form online. she is from christopher columbus high school in miami, florida. which free speech issues still exist today and actually surprise you, even as we honor the 50th anniversary of this case? mary beth: to me it surprises me , how the rights of the first amendment are unequally applied. country, forhe example, speaking about journalism. it is actually scholastic journalism week this week. so we are celebrating that. and so many students don't have journalism at all.
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and so there is an inequality in that. and that is what really surprises me the most. if you go to more upper-class schools or students with more white students -- or schools with more white students, they are more likely to have free speech rights and journalism. that surprises me, but there are students around the country who are working on that. many of them are also journalists. the number of student journalists here today from florida, texas, arkansas, iowa, and is so everyone is working on that. john: you know, is surprised me to read recently in the news that a student was arrested for not pledging allegiance to the flag. now, that surprised me. mary beth: can i say, in all fairness the school said it was , not for not saluting the flag, it was for the substantial disturbance. i have strong feelings about this myself, and i think the police were wrong.
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john: i know the teacher involved in that lost her job. mary beth: that is right. john: and that is a consequence of the school system understanding that the student did have rights. and that gives me a great deal of pleasure to know that the school system is more aware of that these days. mary beth: definitely. it is also an example of over policing in the schools. the aclu goes to the supreme court more than any other organization and they are helping students today with issues exactly like that. >> we will take another question from our audience here. which student is going to get the cube? >> i have it. i am curious how you achieved the funds to go to court. you mentioned it being about
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four years. did you receive donations, pay out-of-pocket? how did you receive the funds? mary beth: as far as the funding the american civil liberties , union, the way they conduct a lot of their cases is with pro bono lawyers, lawyers who donate their time. we had a wonderful lawyer named dan johnston, who was not only good at arguing the case but also good at helping us to feel safe and secure, which was a problem at that time. a lot of people were threatening us. we had no money. we had a large family. and through the help of the american civil liberties union we were able to proceed. john: our lawyer passed away a few years ago, but he always added -- he was a young lawyer at the time, maybe 29 years old when he won the supreme court case. he said, if you win a supreme court case at that age, the rest of your career tends to be anti-climactic.
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[laughter] kevinhave a question from , from brownsville, texas. how did you feel when you presented your case to the supreme court not knowing how they were going to rule? john: well, we didn't do that ourselves, personally. we testified at the trial court here in des moines at the federal court. i testified first. and i was a little nervous, but i wasn't excessively nervous. i had an audience full of adults and students who i knew supported me. our lawyer was very good, very friendly, and he was able to make us feel comfortable on the stand. the school board attorney was not so friendly.
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he was really trying to rope us into saying something that would be detrimental, but honestly, i felt like i could anticipate exactly where he was trying to get me to go and i could avoid that. but anyway, the appellate court in st. and at the supreme court it was our lawyer who made the , case to the court. we could just sit back and watch. actually, i couldn't watch at the supreme court because i missed some flights, i got bumped from a flight in chicago. mary beth: that is true. in the des moines school board, even though they were speaking up against us then, they changed their minds and have been supportive and welcoming. and we really appreciate that. john: they have been welcoming to us. mary beth: they even wore black armbands last year because students were speaking up about
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the issue with the parkland shooting. >> we have a couple minutes left for questions. somebody in the audience ask a quick question with the cube. wow. [laughter] >> just a quick question. >> i am omar and i wanted to ask , did you have any family members who rejected you or shunned you after you appeared at the supreme court? mary beth: we did not have any family members who rejected the us after the ruling. some were kind of mad about it, but not really. i am glad you asked that. i remember we were talking at lunch about how you were worried that something like the internment of the japanese could happen again, if we don't speak up about prejudice and discrimination. thank you for that. i enjoyed talking with you about
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that. john: although we didn't have family members that were killed in the war or that served in the war, we had a lot of sympathy for the soldiers in vietnam. and i always want to make that distinction because you are going to hear me talk against militarism, but i'm not speaking out against the soldiers. i view the soldiers as another victim of militarism that is so strong in our society. and i have a lot of sympathy for people, and a number of friends who have been soldiers. >> i think that wraps up the question portion. thank you both. mary beth: thank you for your great questions. [applause] mary beth: now, we have a special treat. we have two students who are
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using their first amendment rights to speak up about the things they care about, and one of them is from north high school. , ocome on up, jenny. [applause] john: north is my old high school. mary beth: that is right. >> good afternoon, everyone. my name is diana lynn. i am a senior at north high school. 50 years ago, the tinkerers not only stood up for their rights, but also for people across the nation, and that changed our lives forever. because of your courageous nests s we are nowousnes , able to express ourselves and what we wear, right, and say. today, i woke up not being afraid, not being afraid of going to school and expressing my ideas. i am glad to say that many kids today are not afraid to speak their minds. they know how to use their voice.
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50 years ago, students would be expelled or suspended for exercising their rights. that all changed because of the tinkers. thank you. i want to tell you about something powerful that happened at north high school. a couple years ago, political issues motivated student leaders to organize a walkout in protest. signs were made by multiple students and everybody was united as i participated because one. i know that my voice matters and if i don't like something, i will speak up. today, our generation has a lot more opportunities to express ourselves, from afterschool andrams, to art classes, take journalism for example -- we have a great newspaper team here, the oracle. we have a newspaper where students can design their own pages and write what they believe in. topics we have covered range from women to lgbtq rights. these topics are usually
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sensitive, but the newspaper provides a platform to express ourselves. we are young and because we are so young, people think we don't matter, and our opinions don't matter, but we do matter. we are the leaders of the next generation, so thank you to the tinkers for giving us the freedom of speech we have today. thank you. [applause] thank you so much for that. now we will hear from rebecca from parkland, florida. thank you, rebecca. [applause] is rebecca and i am the editor in chief of the newspaper at marjory stoneman douglas high school. if you didn't know, i am sure most of you do, last year, for
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14 this was the site of a shooting that killed 17 people. but i don't think that's what marjory stoneman douglas high school is known for now. we are not known as a school of victims. we are a school of fighters. fighters who understood our first amendment rights to speak up for what we believe in and to advocate for the right to live. and i think that if you are going to take anything from today, it should be that it does not matter your age. we were 14, 15, 16, 17. if you are old enough to be affected by the ills of society you are old enough to have a say , in it, and to speak up for what you believe in. i am not just saying that as a survivor of a school shooting. i am saying that as a student journalist. before february 14 and after february 14, i wrote about issues that were important to me. violence, ors good lgbtq topics, diversity.
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each of these issues were as important as the other. if any issues are important to you, i encourage you to stand up for your rights, to speak up for them, write about them. because i have seen that student voices are the most important thing in this country right now. these are the things keeping us together. and these are the things holding politicians and everyone else accountable for their actions. whatever you believe in, write about it, speak about it, and affect change. thank you. [applause] mary beth: thank you. thank you all for being here. and thank you for using your rights. thank you for using your first amendment rights to speak up and make the world better, safer, and a more just place for all of us to live. how about it, john? john: absolutely.
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thank you for being here. thank you for caring about first amendment rights and about a better world. you are the future. it is really true. mary beth: and you are also the president. john: you are the president and we are really counting on you. go out there and make the world a better place. mary beth: thanks. thank you so much, everyone. [applause] >> john and mary beth, on behalf of the state historical society of iowa and young people across the country, thank you for sharing your time, energy, and story with us today. to the students in this auditorium and those who joined us online, thank you for your questions and your participation. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its
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caption content and accuracy.] ♪ we now return to richmond for more live coverage of the american civil war museum's symposium at the library of virginia in richmond. we will hear about the importance of military history from catherine shively, a history professor. and author of "nature's civil war, common soldiers and the environment in 1862." if you want to learn more about the civil war, american history tv features programming about the war and reconstruction every saturday night, at 6 p.m. eastern. >> welcome back, everyone.
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welcome back to the annual symposium. we are glad to have you with us. for those of us joining us on c-span, glad to have you with us as well. now we will continue today's journey. this afternoon out for speaker .p is dr. katie shively as the resident professor at richmond's largest institution of higher learning, virginia commonwealth university, dr. shively is a familiar face to many of you. she has spoken and published widely on the subject of her 2013 book, "nature's civil war: and the soldier environment in 1862 virginia." on the subject of her book in progress, the always entertaining general jubal early in his role as


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