Thursday's Children
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Time Line: Tinker v. Des Moines School District & Correlative Events


July: President Johnson increases US troop levels in Vietnam to 125,000

November: John Tinker, Chris Eckhardt, and other Iowa peace activists attend a rally and march in Washington DC to protest the Vietnam war.

December 9: Senator Robert Kennedy calls for an open-ended extension of a proposed Christmas Eve truce.

December 11: College students from Drake, ISU, and Grinnell join peace activists at the Eckhardt home in Des Moines to discuss ways of observing the truce and drawing attention to it. Bruce Clark, a Roosevelt High School student, is present.

December 11, 8pm: A press conference is called at American Friends House to announce the planned protest.

December 11, 10pm: Local television news broadcasts coverage of the plan.

December 12: Des Moines Sunday Register also gives coverage.

December 12: Another meeting takes place at the Eckhardt home, this one a previously scheduled meeting of Liberal Religious Youth. Bruce Clark shares information from Saturday’s meeting. After discussion, it is decided that all those who wish to participate will wear black armbands on Thursday, December 16 and fast all day as a symbol of mourning for the war dead. They resolve to continue wearing the armbands until January 1, 1966.

December 13: Ross Peterson, a Roosevelt student, writes an article for the school newspaper announcing the protest planned for Thursday.

December 14: Perry Hutchinson wears a black armband to his school (Des Moines Lincoln). It is scarcely noticed all day.

December 14: Ross Peterson is told by his advisor that the protest must be approved by the School Administration.

December 14: The Director of Secondary Education and all five Des Moines high school principals meet and unanimously agree to forbid the wearing of armbands.

December 14, evening: Peterson and Clark visit John Tinker and tell him of their intent to fast and wear the armbands on Thursday.

December 15: A front page article in the Des Moines Register announces the school’s ban of the wearing of armbands.

December 16: Chris Eckhardt wore his. When told to remove it, he refused. He was suspended. Mary Beth Tinker wore hers. When told to remove it, she did. They sent her home anyway.
December 17: John Tinker wore his. He was suspended. More than two dozen students wore black armbands on Dec. 16 and 17 in Des Moines high, middle and elementary schools. Only the Tinkers, Eckhardt, Bruce Clark, and Roosevelt sophomore Christine Singer were suspended as a result of the protest.

December 21: Two hundred people attend a meeting of the Des Moines School Board; the Board postpones making a decision about upholding the armband ban.

December 22: The Des Moines Register publishes another article about the armband controversy.

December 23: The New York Times covers the story.
January 3: The Des Moines School Board votes 5-2 to uphold the armband ban.

March 14: Dan Johnston of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union files a formal complaint on behalf of Chris Eckhardt, John Tinker, Mary Beth Tinker and their fathers as “next friends” in the U. S. District Court of the Southern District of Iowa. The Tinkers and Eckhardt file a suit claiming violation of First Amendment rights.

September 1: After an evidentiary hearing, the District Court dismissed the complaint.

September 3: The Tinkers file an appeal to the U. S. Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit

August: President Johnson announces 45,000 more troops to be sent to Vietnam.

October 21-23: An antiwar rally and march in Washington DC draws 50,000 protesters.

November 3: The Court of Appeals is evenly divided (4 -4), which has the effect of upholding the previous ruling. The case is appealed to the Supreme Court.


August 28: During the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, 10,000 anti-war protesters are confronted by 26,000 police and national guardsmen. 800 demonstrators are injured.

 November 5: Richard M. Nixon is elected, promises "an honorable end to the war in Vietnam.”
November 12: The Tinker case is argued before the Supreme Court.

February 24: The Supreme Court overturns the lower court’s ruling on the Tinker case, deciding in favor of the plaintiffs (7 – 2) Abe Fortas writes the majority opinion.

July 8: The first US troops are withdrawn from Vietnam.
November 15: The 'Mobilization' peace demonstration draws an estimated 250,000 in Washington for the largest anti-war protest in U.S. history.

May 1970: Ohio National Guardsmen shoot and kill four students and paralyze a fifth on the campus of Kent State. Students were protesting the expansion of the war into Cambodia.

August 1972: the last ground forces are withdrawn from Vietnam.

January 1973: Nixon suspends all offensive activity in Vietnam.

October 1973: Henry Kissinger is awarded co-winner of Nobel Peace Prize.


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