Skip to main content

tv   Student Free Speech Tinker v. Des Moines Anniversary  CSPAN  March 19, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT

8:00 pm
. first the discussion on the landmark decision in tinker v. des moines . and its impact on student free speech. then our lectures and history series looks back at the supreme court nominees chosen by president lyndon johnson and richard nixon. later we hear about the constitutional issues the supreme court faced during world war i with historian melvin year off ski. 50 years ago the u.s. open court decided that students do not lose their first amendment rights on school grounds. in a landmark case tinker v. des moines . the ruling was in favor of three des moines iowa students who were suspended for wearing black armbands to school and process of the vietnam war. the historical society of iowa marking the 50th anniversary with her mary beth tinker and her brother john who were co- petitioners in this case.
8:01 pm
is a special celebration celebrating a victory in first amendment rights. we are joining you live from the auditorium of the state historical society in a while who are into mine. with us today are more than 200 students from schools across the state. we are joined online by students and classrooms across the country. say hello everybody ! [ applause ] in december 1965, mary beth and john tinker along with their friend christopher eckhart were
8:02 pm
black armbands to school to protest the war in vietnam. they were sent home and suspended from school. the students were told they could not return to school until they agreed to end their protest. through their parents, the students sued the school district for violating their right to free expression. therefore your court battle commented in a landmark us supreme court decision tinker v. des moines independent school district. 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. the tinker decision remains a frequently cited court precedent . 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
8:03 pm
. after their presentation we will invite our audience to ask questions of mary beth and john . for those watching outside this venue, share your questions on twitter with the # tinker verse three or go online to it tv network slash tinker. please join me in welcoming john and mary beth tinker. >> thank you everybody, thank you, thank you thank you thank you. thank you so much k and thank you to the state historical society of hawaii and i will public colleges and and iowa c- span into all of you in the audience and following out there in the us, online. we are so happy to be with all of you here today. >> it's a great honor and a privilege to be with so many people who are celebrating the
8:04 pm
first amendment rights especially those of students in the schools. this is very powerful and very powerful moment and for me personally to be participating in this, thank you for inviting me and i also wanted to mention the national history day. it has done so much to promote student awareness and student activism. >> we will have some of the chance to meet some of those students in a little bit. we are going to meet students who are taking our country toward this ideal of equal justice under the law and equality for all and that what you have done all throughout the ages through history and now today again. we are so honored to be here with all of you to do that. also to honor our family story. our parents stood up for what was right what they believe in and for justice and for love. they were not always so popular for doing that. we will tell you the story of how this all happened. to get started, first of all,
8:05 pm
we were kids growing up and of course we had wonderful qualities like all of you. we had creativity and talent and ideas a potential but we needed our rights in order to unlock all of those potentials. when those first amendment rights again? someone tell me one of the rights of the first amendment freedom of question freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the very last, freedom of petition. all right let's hear it for the first amendment! [ applause ] all right. oh that is so cute, will this is us growing out and iowa. we did not know our first amendment rights back then did we john? >> not too well at this age, that's for sure. mech there is john on the left, he is so cute. and leonard who is here today. thank you for coming leonard.
8:06 pm
i am in the middle, i am the scally one. there is hope. and bonnie on the far side and our parents. paul was not born yet but you will see paul later. yes policy or two. paul is here as well. growing up we had a foundation of speaking up for things and we had so many great friends and one of them was john's good friend and our family friend griffin. while edna griffin who was stanley's mother was an amazing woman. she was a really good friend of our mother's. she had already one in iowa supreme court case picking up against discrimination. we are so happy today that we will have some students from decorah iowa who did a national history program, please welcome lauren johnson and ray. , nephew two.
8:07 pm
come on up you two. >> my name is grace and this is lauren johnson. we are students from decorah high school. we are here to talk about our experience on the national history day project. in choosing our topic we wanted to focus on activists in history that truly made a difference communities in iowa. we found edna griffin. anna griffin who was a brave woman who fought for equal rights of all organizations and races. she took action for justice. her most significant impact was her work with the drugstore. on july 7, 1948 griffin was denied service at this drugstore on the grounds of her race. she filed a lawsuit against the store and took her case all the way to the iowa supreme court. the court would rule in her favor. she helped establish laws that made it illegal to deny service based on race. we wrote a play to present our information. we have two other people to
8:08 pm
help us perform this play are not able to be here today. in our play we focused reenacting the conflict at the drugstore in the civil trial. our performance advanced to stay contest where we won two awards. the african-american history award and the leroy g pride award. we are lucky enough to to present our play at the edna griffin award and celebration dinner last summer. while in des moines we visited the edna griffin building which was once that drugstore. anna griffin truly inspired us. she used her rights and the law to make the city of des moines a better place for everyone. when we look at our lives we want to continue edna griffin's let legacy. we should send out for injustice around us are as simple as showing except acceptance and respect. the play really helped us speak out about what we see around us that we don't agree with. the celebration dinner really highlighted anna griffin's legacy. we chose edna griffin and hope to share her story in the
8:09 pm
important work she accomplished . edna griffin is an example in our lives. she stood up for the rights of others so i can't we? changing society is a lifelong journey for all responsible for. help me welcome stanley griffin, edna griffin son. >> all right! [ applause ] yes,! >> thank you very much. it is an honor to be here today. i am pretty touched by that speech. i mean it's like that's what mother really wanted. she wanted to leave a legacy of what is right, human and in areas of human and civil rights. they were talking about the accomplishments with that drugstore case but i want you to know who was my mother. number one she was the number one mother in the world. she definitely was my company as i
8:10 pm
played cello through school. she was my company is done that. she was standing up for union rights in iowa. she got here in 1947 and she stood up for the meatpackers to try to organize them in 1947. the work i want you to know that she did back then, she would foreshadow the modern civil rights movement as you know it today. i look back and i say my mother was very bold. i mean she is a force in action and i think she wants to transfer that to all of you kids , everybody, to make a difference in terms of what happened. she helped with farm organizations. i also grew up with farmers from newman grove nebraska and she help them organize a case against safeway stores. i just want to let you know she was more than just one being. she was very complicated and
8:11 pm
brilliant. she graduated from high school at 14 years old and moved on from there and dedicated her life to civil and human rights, rights, and i stand proud to represent the griffin family. one other thing, my dad, doctor stanley griffin, was the foundation of our family. without him -- working for himself, mother could not do what she did because he would've got fired and not had any employment. so stand up for what is right and always remember i mother. one last thing, little plug here, if you want to learn more about mom right now go to edna griffin iowa, if you google that you will get a lot of hits on her. we are writing a book right now so there will be a lot more about it. we want to help kids just like you and others xl. white, black, everybody do that.
8:12 pm
they give very much. >> thank you, thank you. thank you. [ applause ] thank you, thank you so much stanley. and lauren and grace first stating that story. you have such influence on our lives. as people take us toward democratic ideals there are people who are a great example to us. around the time that all of this was going on and that we were going up, there is at least edna and sandy. 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 is going on in birmingham alabama. here were some students that were there. again, taking us toward our ideals. it was the issue of racial justice which our cases so grounded and because this is the example we were following.
8:13 pm
these people were in birmingham, around 2000 people that year marched and sang songs like this little light of mine i'm going to let it shine, they were marching in for justice. and what happened john? some people were not too happy about that. >> no, this is ku klux klan. they were not interested in racial justice. they were interested in whites only. the movement had to rise up to oppose that. if there had not been a movement of people to oppose that that is still the world we would live in today. so we are very happy. >> happy that young people stood up and opposed it and many adults as well. we were part of all that speaking up. while the ku klux klan punish the little children for speaking up for democracy and for justice. they had a plan and they planted a bomb in their church, right on sunday morning.
8:14 pm
it was the 16th street baptist church so they put a bomb in their church on september 15, 1963. i was 10 years old, john was 12. these four little girls, their bodies were found in the church, since the, and he may, carol and denise. we were so sad about that. just like today what is driving a lot of young people to speak up and stand up. is sadness and grief. it's feeling that the world is not the way it could be and that we could do better. in des moines, edna griffin has started a group called the congress of racial equality. people around the country had services to mourn for their little girls and we had one here in des moines. we finally see her little brother there, there he is, paul right there. >> stanley mentioned that our families that we grew up
8:15 pm
together and that is true. here you see our brother paul, this is phyllis griffin, linda griffin and mary the speaker and hour departed bonnie. i will cream credit for that shot right there. >> i should have given you the credit there john, photojournalist. so then that was the first time that we had a chance to wear black armbands and we experienced wearing black armbands for being said. it's a symbol it goes way back through history. it shows that you are sad it shows all of us girls wearing black armbands that they to show how sad we were about the birmingham children being killed. we could do something about it. >> this memorial service took place at the capital, at the plows at the capital. >> we are about two blocks from there right now here in des moines.
8:16 pm
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 three 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. so young people again spoke up and led the way as young people do to speak up for justice and equality and democracy and it was called freedom summer 1964. >> our parents went down south to participate in that and also our older brother leonard. >> that's right because our father was a methodist miniter. he became involved with the quakers. he said to wait for heaven to put your values into action, let's just do it right now on earth. let's take action to speak up for love and all those things we preach in our religion. so these people were doing that, putting love into action
8:17 pm
and also speaking up and using their first amendment rights. well when they got there three of them immediately disappeared. cheney, schwerner, and goodman. andrew goodman james chaney and michael schwerner. everyone suspected that the ku klux klan had them but they kept searching and searching for them and on august 4 the fbi found the bodies of these three boys. very very sad time that summer. i am a very same day something else very sad happened that was going to 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 that it'd been attacked. it turned out it had not been attacked but it did not stop the u.s. congress from voting almost unanimously to send thousands of troops to vietnam. that is really when it
8:18 pm
got started. it was already going on more in secret by lyndon johnson. after august 4 and all of this was going on at the same time in those mighty times that are so much like our times that all of you are living in today. students in mississippi did not think that was right. they spoke up and they use their first amendment rights and they more the spot is to school that said one man one vote. student nonviolent coordinating committee. they were suspended from school for doing that. it was a black school, segregated school with black students and they were suspended and a court case started working its way through the courts. it was called burnside versus fire. we had no idea that that case was going to influence all of our lives and all of the lives of all of you students who are watching this today because this is the case that established the substantial disruption standard in schools.
8:19 pm
you can have free speech, you cannot substantially disrupt school. these kids in mississippi eventually won their case and the court said that they should have had the right to wear those buttons and use their first amendment right because they did not substantially disrupt school that is where that standard comes from. there were also said things continuing, now on the news that we see here 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 napalm, pictures of villages that had been burned down. >> what was napalm by the way? >> napalm is a gasoline that has had things added to it to
8:20 pm
make it like a jelly so when the bomb goes up and this jelly gasoline sprays out it sticks to your skin and it burns you up , it sticks to everything. it berms up your homes and burns of the people, berms up the mothers and the babies as well. we sought every night in black and white but this happened and we watched it over and over again and we did not know what to do about it. there was a large march in washington. i went on the march to washington and on the way back we discussed what we could do to continue to protest the war. a man on the bus said he had heard that people were going to wear black armbands to protest the war. the black armband is an old traditional umbel symbol of morning. people for hundreds of years have worn black armbands when members of their families have
8:21 pm
died and they want to indicate to their society that they are in a period of morning. we decided to wear black armbands to express our morning for the deaths on both sides of the conflict. also we were trying to encourage the adoption of robert kennedy's call for christmas truce that year in 1965. when the school system found out that we were going to wear black armbands the principals got together and banned the wearing of black armbands and we did not know what to do but we felt that out of conscience we had to do it. we grew up in the des moines school system and in the des moines school system we were taught that america is a free country and that in america we have freedom of speech. we felt that we had the right to wear the black armbands. i think we
8:22 pm
understood that 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. we got kicked out of school we appealed it to the school board . this is mary beth our mother behind mary beth our father leonard and chris singer to his right. also you see her lack armband. >> she was suspended also. >> i am back behind their summer i was not in the shop but we all attended the school board meeting. the school board decided to support the principles and so we had been kicked out of school and our lawyer with what
8:23 pm
was then the iowa civil liberties union, now it's the american civil liberties union iowa chapter, recommended that we go back to school without the armbands on so that we would not complicate our case with truancy issues and that we sue the school system for violating our first amendment rights. that is what we did. >> that is what happened. >> we lost at the district court . judge stephenson, he felt that it was a first amendment issue but it was a free speech issue but that the school authorities had the right to make the rule about that. so we lost our case at the district court, the federal district court level. so we appealed it to the circuit court in st. louis. normally at the circuit court, the case is heard by a three- judge panel. the three-judge
8:24 pm
panel because of the burnside v byers opinion where the students had one that case out of circuit court -- >> in mississippi. >> the three-judge panel thought that the whole court should hear the case but they were short one judge so instead of nine they only had eight. those eight judges split in their decision for-4 that made it very much more likely that the supreme court would hear the case to clear up this conflict at the circuit court level. we appealed to the supreme court. >> oh yeah and how many cases a year does the supreme court take? not very many. >> you tell me. >> they take about 80 cases out of 10,000. >> so less than 1%. >> they thought this was an important case because it had to do with it and speech rights and their had only been one
8:25 pm
case, west virginia versus barnett in 1943 which ruled that students cannot be forced to say the pledge of allegiance in public schools. that was the only case about student speech before. >> by the way, they determined that case, the pledge of allegiance case, in 1943 in the middle of a war. they stood up for students rights 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-to split and we one. it was a very resounding victory for students rights. in our case it was the first time that the court said that students in public schools are personal -- persons under the constitution and they were endowed with the first amendment right. that has been the rule now for the past almost exactly 50 years and it has really empowered students voices.
8:26 pm
in our case it was written -- the majority opinion was written and he rallied in his opinion, all of the arguments supporting free speech in a democracy. it is a really wonderful decision if you have the opportunity please looks like that up and read the decision into a be des moines because it's a very strong argument in freedom of speech. beyond that he argues that in the schools it is especially important because students are going to grow up to be voting citizens and it is important that students not think that we believe in the first amendment is windowdressing that we don't really leave it, that we be sincere in our belief in our support for the first amendment. so it is a very strong opinion. neck not everybody was so happy about us speaking up and standing up for peace.
8:27 pm
some even sent us some mail like this postcard saying that they hate us and that we were communist and they threw red painted our house and a lady even called me and threatened to kill me. others stood up for us attended corporal harry corey who said he thought he should we should have our first amendment rights. this is around the time that we actually lost. am not sure why were smiling but that was at the appeals court when we lost the case and chris eckardt was there with us as well. the third plaintiff. and then the happy day february 24 which we are celebrating this week and we are celebrating all year, 2019 will be the 15th anniversary of this day when the supreme court said 7-2 that neither -- or teachers leave their right to free expression at the door.
8:28 pm
one of my favorite parts of the ruling is that students are persons. do like being persons everybody? kind of nice! yes let's hear it! [ applause ] there is nothing like being a person with the responsibilities and the right of the constitution in our democracy so it was a great day for young people all over the country. we are celebrating that today. so thank you all for being here with us to help celebrate. we are going to open it up i think soon or some questions and your comments, thank you everybody, here is to the first amendment! all right! [ applause ] >> thank you john and mary beth. as we mentioned is time for you now. those watching your event live share your questions on twitter
8:29 pm
using the #take her anniversary or our online form@ittv.org / a. we are going to start with a question from the students who are here with us in the room. does anyone have a question >> i am from sioux city west i was talking to my teacher earlier in our lunch period and he got up an interesting point and i think it goes along with the first invest in these modern times were social media is used more now to cause an assembly for protest or something like that, how does that play into the first amendment. >> social media, great way to stand up for what you believe in
8:30 pm
. there has not been a case of the supreme court that his has to do with student speech but adult and facebook and the court was very protective of the man's rights in that case but i think it's only a matter of time be for it does make it to the supreme court. with social media we want to be respectful of how argues that we want to use our rights to make it better and not more dangerous. >> i would like to say something regarding speech generally. it applies to social media because a lot of the questions around social media speech have to do with implied threats and harassment. i think that you are going to find that speech is distinguished between speech which is expressing an idea and speech which is more or less an assault. currently an assault
8:31 pm
is defined as a physical assault but if you have ever been verbally assaulted you understand that it has a physical effect and hate speech can have a physical effect and it can also encourage violence, real physical violence. so my view and my expectation is that speech will be distinguished more -- for instance i cannot walk into a bank and say give me your money and then claim that it was free speech. i cannot rob a person with my speech. likewise i think it is going to be distinguished between assaultive speech and speech which is also conveying an idea. >> 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's a
8:32 pm
little bit different because we have to maintain an environment there where everyone feels safe. certain cases, there was a case in san diego where a student were assured that that god is ashamed of your homosexuality. the court ruled against that. that impinges on the rights of others. because in the ruling there are two things that the court says students still cannot do with free speech. number one, substantial disruption of school, and that comes directly from the mississippi burnside case. number two, impinge on the rights of others. what ever that means. that has been debated ever since but sometimes the courts can curtail your rights to free speech because they say that it can impinge on the rights of others so let's see another one. >> at the lower courts some of the social media cases have been regarding claimed disruption in the school because of speech which occurred on the internet. i
8:33 pm
think that is one of the tough issues. >> yes there are a lot of rulings about this. sometimes a student has prevailed and other times not depending on how much of a threat of violence is involved. >> speaking of social media, we have a question from lynn on twitter. how did your friend and teachers treat you when you were those armbands? >> teachers were pretty nice about it really. my friends were also not hostile to me. i would have to say they were fine. >> my friends also more or less supported me. i will tell a little story, i was having lunch -- i want the first three periods of the day and nobody said anything about my black armband, my friends mentioned it but i was not reported to the office or none of the teachers. if the teachers sought, one in particular that i'm thinking
8:34 pm
about, he did not report it. after gym class my last period for the morning, i put my clothes back on, i put the black armband over my white shirt. i did not put my jacket back on, and it stood out really well . so i went to the lunch room like that and ate lunch with my friends. they were discussing it, it was not a big deal really. some kids came over and started harassing me. they were calling me a communist, a coward, that i was not patriotic. they were harassing me. and a football player came over . i did not really know him at the time, i know him better now but i did not know him at the time. he said to the kids who were harassing me, he said, look, you have your opinion about the war, john has his opinion about the war. john has a right to
8:35 pm
his opinion, leave him alone. i thought that was just excellent to have a football player. 2 come on! [ applause ] he was standing up your rights! >> we have another question from twitter, this is from ashley. she has joined us on the online forum. she is at a high school in milford connecticut. she asks, how did being involved in this at a young age effect and essentially change your life? >> yes it has changed both of our lives i think because it has really given us an opportunity to spend our time with young people like today and encouraging on people. it's been a great privilege. >> ashley, it affected my life i am sure. when you have done something significant at a young age you sort of feel like you need to do something else or that's the only thing you will have accomplished.
8:36 pm
i remained a lifelong peace activist and it still my major identification as an activist. i am very opposed to militarism, i think that the large military budget is very detrimental to our society and it's preventing us from addressing real issues that we have. the case and winning it at a young age gave me confidence to chart my own course and i have done that and i am very happy that i was able to do that. it has given us, both of us the opportunity to speak to students and teachers and administrators. i talk regularly with graduate school classes of school administrators and so i am very
8:37 pm
blessed to be able to have that kind of contact and influence. >> let's pick a question from the audience, raise your hand if you have one please. we will throw that microphone to you. >> i go to dowling. what are your thoughts on the current problems, especially arising on college campuses, of groups of students actively promoting violence to censor speakers that they may not agree with and violate the first amendment of a hole opposite side of the spectrum that has become a huge issue especially right now? >> i am against censorship at speech at college campuses. colleges should be places where people can speak and engage in have dialogue. i think that's very very important. >> should we take another questions from twitter?
8:38 pm
>> sure. >> ruby gonzales from lopez early college and high school in brownsville texas sends us this question. what advice would you give to students who might be hesitant to speak up and their schools for fear of retribution from the school? >> the fear of speaking up because of violence, potential violence? >> i was in eighth grade, i was shy and nervous. >> i have the armband in my coat pocket when he walks to school because i was afraid of what somebody on the street might do. >> but we had examples in our life. we had the birmingham kids, they were even killed for speaking up for the things that they believed in. we had our parents who were examples to us. i think if you think you find some other people that care about the same issues, when you
8:39 pm
do it makes life so meaningful and interesting and some days even fun. >> i want to point out as well that we were not individuals. we were really part of the movement. in our child grew up surrounded by the peace movement. we were immersed in the peace movement. we knew that we had the support of adults around us. we knew that there was a ellis arbuckle bases and a moral basis for what we were doing. i think that lent us strength to do what we were doing. >> if you feel isolated and alone, and i have felt that way at times, try to find at least one other person, maybe in your school or in your community or someone that you can find a friend to stand by you and that can make all the difference. >> okay des moines we are looking at you do have a
8:40 pm
question? >> i am michael rosenberg from hampton dumont i wanted to know what was your reaction you got from the community over your protest? >> some people in the community were very supportive and many were very -- some were very angry. they misunderstood the idea of patriotism i think. some people think the patriotism means just following the policy that your government politicians etc. have decided. that is where the school board president made his mistake also. he came out with a quote in the des moines register saying that our government has made a decision about vietnam and we should follow it. that is not democracy. really this is a story of journalism also because there were so many journalists that spoke up and covered this case.
8:41 pm
our role in democracy is not to just follow what has been decided is also to think about things and to criticize the decisions of politicians and the government will me feel that it has gone astray. >> in 1965, by the end of 65, the war fervor had really been whipped up. the people were being told by the media that if we did not stop the north vietnamese that they would be attacking california. it was called the domino theory. so people whose information was only coming through the established media channels and 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. that is why there was so much anger directed toward the peace
8:42 pm
movement. you cowards come you communist, 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, and more of a sense of their own humanity and the rightness of humanity, of conscience, i think that we got support from them. society is a very broad society and so people acted in different ways depending on where in that broad-spectrum they came from. >> and as the concerns and feelings about the war grew through the years, more and more of the military got involved in speaking up for peace. i think that is really what helps to end the war. it was not a student movement against the war only it was also soldiers, so he soldiers themselves. by 19 69 when we won the case,
8:43 pm
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 by then were also speaking up about peace. >> the soldiers were coming back and they knew what the war was like they had seated and witnessed it with their own eyes. the soldiers that came back and said no this is not like we are being told it is. they really did swing a lot of the public and by 1969 the broad center of the curve had shifted much more toward the antiwar position. >> we have a question for mary, she submitted this form online at ittv.org/tinker. she is from christopher columbus high school in miami florida. which free speech issue still exist today and actually surprise you even as we honor the 50th anniversary of tinker v. des moines ?
8:44 pm
>> to me it surprises me how the rights of the first amendment are unequally applied so much today. as i travel the country for example speaking about journalism, it's actually's last journalism week this week so we are celebrating that, and so many students don't have journalism at all. so there is an inequality about that. that is what really surprises me the most. if you go to more upper-class schools or students with more white students they are more likely to have free-speech rights and journalism and all of the rights of the first amendment. it surprises me that there is around the country that are working on that. have a number of journalists here today, student journalists from florida, from texas, from arkansas, from iowa, no everyone is working on that.
8:45 pm
>> it surprised me to read recently in the news, i forget where was money here will know, a student was arrested for not letting allegiance to the flag. that surprised me for in all fairness, the school has said that it was not for not saluting the flag, it was for the disturbance, the substantial disturbance. >> i have strong feelings about this myself and i think that the police were wrong to arrest . >> i know the teacher that was involved in that lost her job. that is a consequence of the school system understanding that the student did have rights . that gives me a great deal of pleasure to know that the school system is more aware of that these days. >> yes definitely and also that the example of over policing in the schools. that's an issue of the american civil liberties union today. they go to schools more than any other organization and they helped us and they are helping students today with issues
8:46 pm
exactly like that. >> we will take another question from our audience here in des moines. which student is going to get the cube? 2 i have it. >> i am is ulysses, i am curious how you achieve the funds to go to court. you mentioned being about 4 years long. did you receive donations? did you pay out-of-pocket? >> as far as the funding, the american civil liberties union, the way that they conduct a lot of their cases is a pro bono lower. in other words lawyers who donate their time. we had a wonderful young lawyer named dan johnson who was not only good at arguing the case but also very good at helping us to feel safe and secure which was a problem at that time because a lot of people were threatening us. yes, that's out -- we had no money. had a large family and through the help of the aclu we were
8:47 pm
able to proceed. >> our lawyer passed away a few years ago but he always added that he was a very young lawyer at the time, i believe he was 29 years old when he won the supreme court case. he said if you win a case, if you when a supreme court case at that age, the rest of your career tends to be anti- climactic. >> we have a question from kevin , submitted online from lopez early college high school in brownsville texas. how did you feel when you presented your case to the supreme court not knowing how they were going to rule? >> we did not 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 was not excessively nervous. i had an audience full of adults
8:48 pm
and students who i knew supported me our lawyer was very good and very friendly and he was able to make us feel comfortable on the stand the school board attorney was not so friendly. 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. at the appellate court in st. louis at the supreme court also it was our lawyer who made the case to the court so we could just sit back and watch. actually i could not watch at the supreme court because i miss some flights, i got bumped off of a flight in chicago. >> that's true.
8:49 pm
in the des moines school board even though they were speaking up against us then, and there were some supporters for us in the dew point court but they changed their mind and were so supportive and welcoming and we really appreciate that.'s neck they were wonderful to west. >> they even wore black armbands i think after the parkland shootings. that was to support the student. >> we have just a couple of questions. a quick questions with the cube. just a quick question. >> i am omar from star mike and i wanted to ask, did you have any family members that rejected you are shunned you after you appear to the supreme court? >> we did not have any family members that rejected us after the ruling. some people were kind of mad about it but not
8:50 pm
too many. omar i'm glad you asked that question. we were talking at lunch also about what you are talking about with discrimination and how you were worried about the internment the fact that it happened again maybe in our country if we don't speak up and stand up against presidents and discrimination and thank you for that, i enjoyed talking with you about that. >> we didn't have family members that were killed in the war or even served in the war, we had a lot of sympathy for the soldiers who were in vietnam. and i always want to make that distinction because you're going to hear me talk against militarism. i am not speaking out against the soldiers. i view the soldiers as another victim of the militarism that is so strong in our society. and i have a lot of sympathy for the people and i have a number of friends who have been
8:51 pm
soldiers. >> i think that wraps up the question portion and i thank you , thank you everyone for your great questions. [ applause ] now, now we have two students who are raising their first amendment right to speak about the things they care about and one of them is genuine from north high still high school so, too. jenny nguyen. now north is my old high school. so welcome. >> good afternoon everyone. my name is jenny nguyen. i'm a senior at past president des moines north high school. 50 years ago the teachers not only set up for their rights but for people across the nation. that changed our lives forever.
8:52 pm
because of your courageous nest, you were able to express ourselves and what we wear, write 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 mind. they know how to use the voice. it was 50 years ago students would be expelled or suspended for speaking up for their rights. that'll change because of the tinkers. so thank you. i want to tell you about something powerful that happened.north high school. a couple of years ago political issues at the time motivated student leaders to organize a walkout during school to protest. signs were made by students and everyone was united as one. i participated because i know that my voice mattered. if i did not like something i will speak at. today our generation are exposed to a lot more opportunities to express ourselves. after school programs such as the train to and let's take
8:53 pm
journalism for example. you have a great newspeople here at north high purple. the oracle. they create their own pages and design how they like and write about what they believe in. some of the topics have been covering in the newspaper range from women to lgbtq rights. these topics that you see are sensitive but the newspaper provides a platform to express ourselves. we are young and because we are young people think we don't matter. our opinions don't matter. that we do matter. the other leaders of the next generation. so thank you to the tinkers for standing up and letting us have a speech to have today. thank you. [ applause ] now thank you so much, thank you so much for that jenny. now we will hear from rebecca shabad from marjory stoneman douglas and parkland, florida.
8:54 pm
thank you rebecca. >> hi my name is rebecca schneider and i'm eater editor chief at my newspaper at marjory stoneman douglas high school. if you didn't know as most of you do that last year on february 14 it was the site of a shooting which killed 17 people. but i don't think that is what marjory stoneman douglas is all known for now, were not known as a school of victims were known as school survivors, fighters who understood our rights and first amendment rights to speak up for what we believe in and not only that but we were determined to persevere and advocate for the recognition we deserve, our right to live. i think that if you would take anything from today it should be that it doesn't matter your age, 15, 16, 17, if you're old enough to be affected by the society are not old enough to
8:55 pm
have a say. your old enough to speak up for. and stand up for what you believe in. i have not just saying that as the surviving of a school shooting i've seen it in other student journalist. before february 14 and after that i read about yours are important to me and my classmates whether they be lgbtq class issues or gun rights or violence in inner cities and on the streets. or rate culture and diversity in each of these are just as important as the other and if any of these issues or anything else important to you i encourage you to stand up for your rights and to also speak up for them and write about that because i have seen that student voices are the most important in this country right now. they are keeping us together and things that are holding politicians and everyone else accountable for their actions. whatever that you believe and whether that be like any of the issues that said, write about them, speak about them and affect change. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, thank you so much
8:56 pm
rebecca and thank you to all of you for being here and thank you for using your rights and thank you to everyone in the online audience for using your first amendment right to speak up and make the world better, safer more just place for all of us to live. how about it? >> absolutely and thanks for being here. thanks for caring about first amendment rights and thanks for caring about the world. you are the future, i know any number of adults have told you that before but it is really true. >> and you all are present. >> you were really great and we are counting on you, we really are. go out there and make the world a better place. >> thank you so much everyone. [ applause ] dzanan mary beth on behalf
8:57 pm
of iowa public television, and the 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 to those of you who joined us online, thank you for your questions and your participation. [ applause ] or congress is on break this week we are featuring the american history tv program in primetime. on c-span three. giving you a glimpse of what's available every weekend. from the civil war to the great migration.
8:58 pm
and a look into the lives and policies of past political leaders. american history tv every weekend on c-span three. it is 48 hours of historical programs exploring our nation's past. on the american affects travel to historic sites, museums and archives. lectures in history take you to college classrooms lectures from topics ranging from the american revolution to 9/11. journey through the 20th century with our archival films on public affairs. on real america. hear from president and first lady's and learn about their politics forgot policies and legacies. on the presidency. look at the people and events that shape the civil war and reconstruction. and listen to eyewitness accounts of the events in our nations history. on oral history. american history tv, each night this week in primetime while congress is in recess. and on c-span three every weekend. wednesday night on american history tv, we will focus on women's history month with programs that women soldiers
8:59 pm
who fought in the civil war. and feminism in the 1960s and 70s. we will hear about the women's suffrage movement which led to the ratification of the 19th amendment almost 100 years ago. watch american history tv in primetime. starting at 8 pm eastern. here on c-span three. c-span spoke with john tinker back in february. to mark the 50th anniversary of the tinker v. des moines decision. and to talk about its impact on stephen student free speech. this is in our. today marks the 50th anniversary of a landmark supreme court case tinker v. des moines. and in just a moment we will talking one of the key players in that case, can't john tinker joining us from des moines, iowa. first courtesy of cbs news, walter cronkite and the good evening news 50 years ago today.

2 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on