Noted Civil Rights Activist, Diane Nash, Coming to UIS


Photograph courtesy of Eileen Foote

On Thursday, September 13, UIS will host Diane Nash, a major figure in the Civil Rights movement, to share her experiences. The event will be held in the Student Union Ballroom as part of the ECCE Speaker Series. 

    Nash became involved in the Civil Rights Movement during her time at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she studied under James Lawson, another major civil rights activist.

   Nash went on to become chairperson of the Nashville student sit-in movement. These sit-ins, along with the efforts of others, lead to Nashville being the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters. 

  This desegregation took place three weeks after a protest in which Nash confronted the mayor of Nashville, at the time Ben West, on the steps of Nashville City Hall. Nash would also serve as one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), act as a coordinator for the Freedom Ride from Birmingham, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi.

    During her time with the Freedom Riders, Nash met with, and was able to bring to their side, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) at the time.

   Nash was later appointed to a national committee to promote civil rights legislation and became involved in the SCLC’s voting registration and school desegregation campaigns, including the Selma Voting Rights Campaign, where she helped organize the iconic marches from Selma, Alabama, to Birmingham, Alabama. These marches are often cited as being one of the driving forces behind the Voting Rights act presented by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

    Following the Civil Rights Movement, Nash left both the SCLC and the SNCC and became involved in other areas of advocacy, including the peace movement to end the war in Vietnam and fair housing initiatives. In recent years, Nash has also expressed criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

   The event is being sponsored by Residence Life, the Student Government Association, the Capital Scholars Honors Program, Brookens Library, and the following Living Learning Communities: Leadership for Life, Students Transitioning for Academic Retention and Success, Necessary Steps Mentoring Program, and Pre-Nursing Pathways.