Diane Nash- Dynamic Leader in the Civil Rights Movement

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Ed Note:

Diane Nash was an organizer in several of the most successful efforts of the Civil Rights Movement : the Freedom Rides, co founding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and  co-initiating the Alabama Voting Rights Project which included the Selma Voting Rights Movement. 

Diane Judith Nash was born on May 15, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois to Leon Nash and Dorothy Bolton Nash.  Nash grew up a Roman Catholic and attended parochial and public schools in Chicago.  In 1956, she graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois and began her college career at Howard University in Washington, D.C. before transferring to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

While a student in Nashville Nash witnessed southern racial segregation for the first time in her life.  In 1959, she attended nonviolent protest workshops led by Reverend James Lawson who was affiliated with the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference.  Later that year she protested exclusionary racial policies by participating in impromptu sit-ins at Nashville’s downtown lunch counters. Nash was elected chair of the Student Central Committee because of her nonviolent protest philosophy and her reputation from these sit-ins.

By February 13, 1960, the mass sit-ins that began in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1 had spread to Nashville.  Nash organized and led many of the protests which ultimately involved hundreds of black and white area college students.  As a result, by early April Nashville Mayor Ben West publicly called for the desegregation of Nashville’s lunch counters and organized negotiations between Nash and other student leaders and downtown business interests.  Because of these negotiations, on May 10, 1960 Nashville, Tennessee became the first southern city to desegregate lunch counters.  

Meanwhile Nash and other students from across the South assembled in Raleigh, North Carolina at the urging of NAACP activist Ella Baker.  There they founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in April 1960.  

After the Nashville sit-ins, Nash helped coordinate and participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides across the Deep South.  Later that year Nash dropped out of college to become a full-time organizer, strategist, and instructor for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nash married civil rights activist James Bevel in 1961 and moved to Jackson, Mississippi where she began organizing voter registration and school desegregation campaigns for SCLC.   Arrested dozens of times for their civil rights work in Mississippi and Alabama in the early 1960s, Nash and her husband, James Bevel, received SCLC’s Rosa Parks award from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965.  Dr. King cited especially their contributions to the Selma Right-to-vote movement that eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965

In 1966, Nash joined the Vietnam Peace Movement.  Through the 1960s she stayed involved in political and social transformation. In the 1980s she fought for women’s rights.  Nash now works in real estate in her home town Chicago, Illinois, but continues to speak out for social change.

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Diane Nash refused to join the anniversary Selma march in 2015, although she had been one of the leaders of the original march,  because former President George W. Bush was participating. 

Sources: Rosetta E. Ross, Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2003); http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=N003.

Contributor: Kealoha, Samantha Nicholas University of Washington See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/nash-diane-judith-1938#sthash.pu1ZKTlY.dpuf Photo Used with Permission of BlackPast.org.


 

This completes our series of posts celebrating Women’s History Month.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

 

 


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Starting a Local Chapter from Scratch (9pm Eastern)

October 04, 2016 · 7 rsvps
Webinar, RSVP required for sign in information

So you are now a member of DSA, but there is no local chapter where you live. You are thinking of starting a local chapter, but you're not quite sure how to do it.

In Starting a Local Chapter from Scratch you will learn:

  • how other locals got started in recent years
  • how to find out who is already a member
  • the importance of a comrade
  • how to recruit new members
  • the importance of a mentor
  • how to become a recognized organizing committee
  • how to become a chartered local
  • what works best to bring new people in.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

Instructor:

  • Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

Training Details:

  1. Workshops are free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have preferably headphones or else speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt talt@igc.org 607-280-7649.
  5. If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt schmittaj@gmail.com 608-355-6568.
  6. You can participate in every webinar or just attend once in a while.
  7. Workshops will generally be on weekends or evenings.
  8. Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance -- by midnight Sunday for Tuesday's webinar.

NOTE: This training is scheduled for 9:00pm Eastern Time (8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific, 5pm Alaska, 3 pm Hawaii).

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DSA New Member Orientation Call

October 19, 2016 · 17 rsvps
DSA New Member Orientation

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 6 PM MT; 5 PM PT.

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