No discussion of the Civil Rights Movement would be complete without studying and discussing the work of Diane Nash. Born in 1938 to a middle class, Catholic family in Chicago and raised partially by her grandmother, she initially planned on becoming a nun, but decided instead to enroll in Howard University in Washington, D.C., transferring after one year to Fisk University at Nashville, Tennessee.
This brought her directly in contact with the Jim Crow system of segregation and legal humiliation/harassment of black people. She refused to see herself and others treated in this fashion, and subsequently took an activist role on campus, organizing and leading nonviolent protests against all manner of discrimination and abuse.
In April 1960, Diane Nash helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), withdrawing from school to become a full-time freedom fighter. In 1961, Nash served her first jail sentence in solidarity with the Rock Hill 9, sit-in demonstrators from South Carolina.
Later on, Nash directly confronted Nashville Mayor Ben West on the steps of City Hall and engaged in constructive discourse, which resulted in him admitting that he believed that it was wrong to have segregated lunch counters and other public facilities in his city. Three weeks later, the counters were desegregated.
Nash continued to sharpen and broaden her activism and, in the process, went to jail on dozens of occasions, even while pregnant. She also played an active role in the Freedom Rides by coordinating transportation and logistics and not being deterred by massive mob violence committed by white reactionaries and Klansmen.
In 1963, she began organizing for the black vote for every adult in Alabama, again showing her utterly fearless and indomitable spirit. Today, she continues to promote nonviolent resolution of problems and contradictions, remaining true to her principles that motivated her to leave school and join the struggle for a better world.