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Martin Luther King Program

Diane Nash

Originally from Chicago, Nash's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement began while she was a student at Fisk University.  In 1960 she became the chairperson of the student sit-in movement in Nashville, Tenn., the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters, as well as one of the founding students of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  In 1961 she coordinated the Freedom Rides from Birmingham, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi, a story which was documented in the 2011 PBS American Experience film Freedom Riders.

Through her involvement with SNCC and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Nash worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1962 King nominated her for a civil rights award sponsored by the New York branch of theNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People to acknowledge her exemplary role in the student sit-ins. King described Nash as the ‘‘driving spirit in the nonviolent assault on segregation at lunch counters’’.

Her many arrests for her civil rights activities culminated when she was imprisoned for 30 days in 1961, while she was pregnant with her first child.  Undeterred, she went on to help organize the 1963 March on Washington and joined a national committee that promoted passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—to which she was appointed by President John F. Kennedy.

Nash later became active in the peace movement that worked to end the Vietnam War and became an instructor in the philosophy and strategy of non-violence as developed by Mohandas Gandhi.

MLK Community Celebration
Wednesday, January 22 
7 pm, CUB Sr. Ballroom 
Free and Open to the Public

Office of the President
College of Arts and Sciences
College of Education
Graduate School
Associated Students of Washington State University
Compton Union Building
Global Campus
Office of Equity and Diversity  
VIDEO: Learn more about Diane Nash
2011 interview on the Travis Smiley Show
Nash talks about her life
Essence Magazine article written by Nash