Youth activist visits Columbia church

Mary Beth Tinker drew national attention to students' righst during Vietnam

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Mary Beth Tinker is best known as the girl with the black armband, whose fight for students rights went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969.

Tinker visited the Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbia Sunday night on a tour arguing for more youth involvement in communities.

"We just decided that our story is important for kids to know and for kids to know that they do have rights and that they can use them in ways that are effective and respectful and use them to make a better world; to take a world forward," she told ABC 17 News after the event.

In Tinker v Des Moines, the Court ruled that neither students nor teachers "shed their Constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate."

Some in attendance Sunday mentioned an incident last week at Hickman High School, in which the principal shut down a proposed student newspaper interview with Ryan Ferguson, the man just released after serving time for murder. The school's reason for denying the on-campus interview was that Ferguson's presence would be a distraction.

Tinker spoke about listening to young people and giving them voices in schools and communities.

"Young people all over the world are speaking out and standing up about the environment, about human rights, about so many issues," she said. "We need to hear their voices and we need them to be involved in our democracy and taking our world forward."

Tinker is on tour with First Amendment lawyer Mike Hiestand.

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