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Student pioneer for First Amendment rights to visit IU Southeast

NEW ALBANY, IN, (Oct. 3, 2013) – At 13 years old, Mary Beth Tinker took a stand against the Vietnam War. She and her friends and family wore black armbands to school. Her choice led to a landmark Supreme Court case defending students’ rights to free speech and expression.

Almost 50 years later, Tinker is still taking her story on the road and Indiana University Southeast is her next stop.

Tinker will speak at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Paul W. Ogle Cultural and Community Center at IU Southeast. The event is free and open to the public.

The talk in Southern Indiana is one of about 50 stops in a nationwide tour – dubbed the “Tinker Tour” – of 18 states and the District of Columbia.  Most of the stops will be at schools and colleges, where Tinker encourages students to stand up for the issues that are most important to them.

Many young people today don’t fully understand or appreciate their First Amendment rights, said Adam Maksl, an assistant professor of journalism at IU Southeast who is organizing the event.

“High school and college students don’t stand up for what they believe in anymore,” Maksl said. “It’s not that they don’t have opinions – they do – but so many don’t even know they are allowed to express opinions or think they might get into trouble for doing so.”

Maksl said Tinker’s visit might encourage young people to understand and possibly use their free speech rights.

“Mary Beth’s case is interesting not only because it is a landmark case in free speech law,” Maksl said, “but also because it is about a group of people standing up for something important to them. Isn’t that what free speech and democracy is all about?”

The event is sponsored by the IU Southeast Department of Journalism, the Student Program Council at IU Southeast, and the Society of Professional Journalists Louisville Pro Chapter.

More information about the Tinker Tour can be found at http://tinkertourusa.org. For more information about the event at IU Southeast, contact Adam Maksl, IU Southeast assistant professor of journalism, at amaksl@ius.edu or (812) 941-2892.

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