Diane Nash, one of the original Freedom Riders will speak Feb. 4 at Ohio Wesleyan University:
Nash will speak at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Benes Rooms of Ohio Wesleyan University’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware. Her presentation, “The Civil Rights Movement: A Fifty-Year Perspective,” will include time for audience questions, and is free and open to the public. Her presentation kicks off the university’s commemoration of Black History Month.
“Ms. Nash is a towering figure in the freedom struggle,” said history professor Michael Flamm, Ph.D., who is coordinating her Ohio Wesleyan visit. “She provides a personal and inspirational perspective that no textbook or lecture could. I hope everyone comes to hear her speak about her extraordinary life and her timely thoughts on civil rights and race relations in the 21st century.”
In spring 1960, Nash publicly questioned Mayor Ben West about the morality of segregation, resulting in his pronouncement that Nashville’s lunch counters should be open to everyone. She then helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, through which she planned and publicized lunch counter sit-ins and “freedom rides” throughout the South.
In 1962, while living in Mississippi, Nash was jailed for teaching African American children the techniques of direct nonviolent protest. Her ideas and efforts were instrumental in 1963’s March on Washington, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Later, she helped to develop the strategy for the Selma, Ala., right-to-vote movement, which led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For her efforts, Nash received a “Rosa Parks Award” from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, presented in 1965 by Dr. King himself.