SCSPA to bring the Tinker Tour to the University of South Carolina

The South Carolina Scholastic Press Association will bring living history to the University of South Carolina this fall on the wheels of an old RV.

Mary Beth Tinker, plaintiff of the historic Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, is traveling the country on a bus tour to educate students about First Amendment rights and promote free speech.  The Tinker Tour bus will stop in front of USC’s Russell House Oct. 7 for the SCSPA fall conference.  Accompanying Tinker on her tour is Mike Hiestand, former attorney for the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C. Both Tinker and Hiestand will teach sessions throughout the day and Tinker will serve as the keynote speaker for the conference’s closing ceremony.

Tinker v. Des Moines was a landmark Supreme Court decision that set a precedent for students’ free rights that is still used today.  In 1965, Mary Beth Tinker, her brother John Tinker and their friend Christopher Eckhardt wore black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War and demonstrate their support of Robert Kennedy’s request for a Christmas truce.  All three students were taken out of class and asked to remove the bands by their principal.  Even after doing so, they were punished with a suspension.  Four years and two lower federal court hearings later, the Supreme Court heard the students’ case and favored their side with a 7-2 ruling.

Though she is a pediatric nurse by profession, Tinker remains passionate about free speech rights.  For years, she’s used her historic platform to speak at schools and conventions about her experience.  Hiestand shares her passion for First Amendment rights, specifically those concerning free press.  He is well known as an advocate for student press rights in the world of scholastic journalism.  Tinker and Hiestand decided to do the bus tour because they wanted to inform the students of today’s technology filled world about their free speech rights as the communications industry continues to evolve.

The tour will kick off Sept. 17 in front of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.  After their Constitution Day kickoff, Tinker and Hiestand will travel to more than 200 schools and conferences nationwide that have invited them to come share their message.  They’ve already reached their minumum fundraising goal of $100,000, but are still accepting donations so they can accept more speaking invitations across the country.

If you are interested in learning more about the Tinker Tour or would like to sponsor the tour with a tax deductible donation, please visit their Kickstarter page for more information.


In preparation for the Tinker Tour’s stop at SCSPA’s Fall Conference on Oct. 7, make sure you use the following social media outlets to keep updated.







Click here to test your knowledge of the Tinker v. Des Moines case!