Let this February serve as a template for combating the ugly in governmental policies and social injustices. It is crucial that we learn from history when fighting for justice and humanity. In that spirit, I will write about iconic Nashville activists who led public demonstrations, events and meetings that provided the foundation for the Nashville culture we love.
Given the recent Women’s March, here’s my first choice of acknowledgement!
“When you regard your opponent as a human being instead of somebody to fight, you can really work out problems.”-Diane Nash
Because of Diane Nash, Nashville became the first southern city to desegregate lunch counters. Nash’s contribution in the ’60s has afforded me and my white brothers and sisters a seat beside one another at any restaurant of our choice. The 22-year-old Fisk student from Chicago, Illinois left a historical imprint worth acknowledging in 2017.
As her contributions pertain to Nashville, Nash spearheaded a movement that recruited riders, spoke to the press, and watched the progress of the movement from Nashville.
The nation grew to know the movement as the Nashville Student Movement Ride. This student-led movement was groundbreaking in desegregating the city of Nashville through sit-ins.
Nash found comfort in knowing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was having an impact on other states.
“When we heard these newscasters say other states were demonstrating, it really helped,” said Diane Nash.
Nash served as a field staff and organizer for the Student Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), founding member of SNCC and strategist.
She worked alongside other iconic activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Ruby Doris Smith, Charles Jones, Charles Sherrod, John Lewis and James Lawson to name a few.
Aside from her efforts in Nashville, Nash was hands-on in other parts of the nation.
After the bus burning in Anniston, Alabama, Nash led every ride from Birmingham to Jackson in 1961. Also, she helped with the 1963 Birmingham desegregation campaign and Selma Voting Rights Campaign.
In 2009, Fisk University presented Nash with an honorary degree. In the 80s, Nash fought for women’s rights.
Currently at 78-years-old, she is working in real estate in her hometown and making appearances at college and universities across the nation.
On behalf of the Nashville community, Urban Threads acknowledge your strategic work. Thanks for providing a blueprint.
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