34 Facts About Diane Nash


Diane Judith Nash was born on May 15,1938 and is an American civil rights activist, and a leader and strategist of the student wing of the Civil Rights Movement.


Diane Nash's efforts included the first successful civil rights campaign to integrate lunch counters ; the Freedom Riders, who desegregated interstate travel; co-founding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ; and co-initiating the Alabama Voting Rights Project and working on the Selma Voting Rights Movement.


In July 2022, Diane Nash was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Joe Biden.


Diane Nash's mother worked as a keypunch operator during the war, leaving Nash in the care of her grandmother, Carrie Bolton, until age seven.


Nonetheless, Bolton continued to be an important influence on Nash's life and was committed to making sure Diane understood her value.


Diane Nash attended Catholic schools, and at one point considered becoming a nun.


Diane Nash was the runner-up in a regional beauty pageant leading to the competition for Miss Illinois.


Diane Nash acknowledged that she looked forward to personal growth during her time in college and wanted to explore the challenging issues of the time.


Diane Nash recounted her experience at the Tennessee State Fair when she had to use the "Colored Women" restroom, signifying the first time she had ever seen and been impacted by segregation signage.


Outraged by the realities of segregation, Diane Nash began to show signs of leadership and soon became a full-time activist.


Diane Nash's grandmother was quoted as saying, "Diane, you've gotten in with the wrong bunch"; she did not know that Diane was the chairwoman of organizing the nonviolent protests at her university.


Diane Nash's family was not familiar with the idea of working for civil rights, and it took her family time to fully recognize her position as a key player in the Civil Rights Movement.


At Fisk, Diane Nash searched for a way to challenge segregation.


Diane Nash began attending nonviolent civil disobedience workshops led by James Lawson.


Diane Nash said that he felt it was wrong for citizens of Nashville to be discriminated against at the lunch counters solely on the basis of the color of their skin.


Accordingly, in April 1960 Diane Nash was one of the leading founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, independent of any adult organizations, and quit school to lead its direct action wing.


Originally fearful of jail, Diane Nash was arrested dozens of times for her activities.


Diane Nash spent 30 days in a South Carolina jail after protesting segregation in Rock Hill, in February 1961.


Diane Nash took the weight of this possibility seriously, spending two days praying and meditating before coming to a decision and penning an open letter.


Diane Nash would go on to serve many roles for the SCLC from 1961 through 1965 while it was under Martin Luther King Jr.


Diane Nash called on Fisk University and other college students to fill buses to keep the Freedom Rides going.


Diane Nash took over responsibility for the Freedom Rides and worked to recruit Riders, act as media spokesperson, and garner the support the government and other Movement leaders.


Diane Nash spoke with Seigenthaler on the phone, and Seigenthaler warned her that the Freedom Rides could result in death and violence for participants.


When Diane Nash was bringing a batch of students to Birmingham to continue the Ride, she telephoned Birmingham activist Fred Shuttlesworth to inform him.


When Diane Nash called Shuttlesworth again on Wednesday morning to tell him "The chickens are boxed," he knew that the Freedom Riders were on their way.


King had caused tension between himself and the Freedom Riders, Diane Nash included, due to his refusal to participate in the Rides.


Diane Nash was present at the First Baptist Church that night and is credited with playing a key role in getting King to come and speak in support of the Freedom Riders.


Diane Nash was rebuffed, but continued to advocate this "revolutionary" nonviolent blueprint.


Diane Nash is featured in the award-winning documentary film series Eyes on the Prize and the 2000 series A Force More Powerful about the history of nonviolent conflict.


Diane Nash is featured in the PBS American Experience documentary on the Freedom Riders, based on the history of the same name.


Diane Nash has continued to believe in the power of nonviolent action to solve conflicts.


On July 1,2022, the White House announced that Diane Nash would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


In 2013, Diane Nash expressed her support for Barack Obama, while sharing her misgivings about his continuing involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Decades after she played a critical role in the Civil Rights Movement, Diane Nash remains committed to the principles of nonviolence that have guided her throughout her life.