Exciting news today for Mary Beth Tinker and Mike Hiestand, who are among the recipients of this year’s Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards. Tinker and Hiestand were recognized for their work organizing and launching the Tinker Tour, which by May 1 will have covered 31 states and the District of Columbia. Last fall, the tour returned to the middle school and high school that Tinker and her brother, John, were suspended from in 1965, when they wore black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. The tour is a special project of the Student Press Law Center.
Students have told us that the tour inspired them to speak out about issues that matter most to them. A few weeks after the tour stopped at Cardozo High School in New York, students protested budget cuts. Mary-Ann Kendall, a junior at the school, told reporter Sara Tirrito that hearing Tinker’s story inspired her to speak up.
The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation supports organizations that advocate for civil rights, especially First Amendment rights. Other 2014 Hefner awardees include Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his groundbreaking coverage of U.S. intelligence surveillance practices based on documents obtained from leaker Edward Snowden, and free-speech advocate Chris Finan, longtime president of the American Booksellers’ Foundation for Free Expression. The SPLC is a past recipient of Hefner Foundation grants.