A leader and strategist of the student wing of the Civil Rights Movement, Diane Nash was a member of the famous Freedom Riders. She also helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Selma Voting Rights Committee campaign, which helped blacks in the South get to vote and have political power.
Raised in Chicago, Nash initially wanted to become a nun as a result of her Catholic upbringing. Also known for her beauty, she would later become runner-up for Miss Illinois. But Nash’s path changed direction when she attended Fisk University after transferring from Howard University. It was there that she would witness segregation first-hand after coming from a desegregated northern city. Her experiences in the South led to her ambition to fight against segregation.
Historian David Halberstam considered Nash, “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.”