May 26, 2022

News Science

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The Courts and You: From Suffragist Sashes to Antiwar Armbands

2 min read

The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in 2020 brings to mind vintage photos of white-clad suffragists wearing sashes as they marched for the vote, but few would connect that movement with news footage of teen-aged protesters wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War.

This video, for use in classrooms, courtrooms, and the distance-learning space, makes an unlikely connection between two rights activists from different eras. Suffragist Virginia Minor and Vietnam war protester Mary Beth Tinker were separated by 100 years, but their passions came together in the legal history of St. Louis, where they worked through the courts to seek social change. Both lost their appeals in St. Louis but went on to the Supreme Court of the United States.

It portrays Minor as a heroine of the 1860s and 1870s women’s suffrage movement. She was a prominent voting rights advocate of her time who was overshadowed in history by Susan B. Anthony and other high-profile leaders. Just the opposite was true of Tinker. She was a shy, accidental heroine of the 1960s and 1970s anti-war movement. She was not widely known to her contemporaries, but her visibility in history has grown over the years.

The examples of two heroines, over two centuries, invite students to be part of the journey toward justice by way of the court system on their path to achieving the aspirations enshrined in the Constitution.

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