Diane Nash: Famous Name? Famous Face?

Her name ought to be as famous as those of other leaders in the civil rights movement, such as John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael, Julian Bond, and James Farmer. But I’m not sure I had every heard of her, and I’m assuming I am not alone. Here’s what Wike says of her:               

Diane Nash (center) leading students in singing at the police jail in Nashville, Tenn.

Diane Judith Nash was born on May 15, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the leader and strategist of the student wing of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. A historian described her as: “…bright, focused, utterly fearless, with an unerring instinct for the correct tactical move at each increment of the crisis; as a leader, her instincts had been flawless, and she was the kind of person who pushed those around her to be at their best—that, or be gone from the movement.” [1]

Nash’s campaigns were among the most successful of the era. Her efforts included the first successful civil rights campaign to de-segregate lunch counters (Nashville);[2] the Freedom riders, who de-segregated interstate travel;[3] founding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and the Selma Voting Rights Movement campaign, which resulted in African Americans getting the vote and political power throughout the South.[4]

From a feminist  perspective, one’s not surprised at the following egregious  entry from Answers.com:


Who was the founder of the SNCC during the civil rights movement?

Julian Bond was a co-founder of the organization of the S.N.C.C

There are many other forgotten names and faces among those who went on the Freedom Rides.  PBS’s recent program on them can be seen online.