2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Featuring Diane Nash


Diane Nash

Gustavus hosted Diane Nash, a pioneer in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, for the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture. Nash’s lecture was titled “Reflections on the Civil Rights Movement” and was held on January 20, 2014 in Christ Chapel.

Nash’s involvement in the nonviolent movement began in 1959 while she was a student at Fisk University. In 1960 she became the chairperson of the student sit-in movement in Nashville as well as one of the founding students of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. During the spring of 1961, Nash played a crucial role in sustaining Freedom Rides initiated by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). From her base in Nashville, she coordinated student efforts to continue the rides into Mississippi and served as a liaison between the press and the United States Department of Justice.

Her many arrests for her civil rights activities culminated in Nash being imprisoned for 30 days in 1961, while she was pregnant with her first child. Undeterred, she was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to a national committee that promoted passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nash later became active in the peace movement that worked to end the Vietnam War, and became an instructor in the philosophy and strategy of non-violence as developed by Mohandas Gandhi.

Nash is the recipient of numerous awards, including the War Resisters’ League Peace Award; the Distinguished American Award presented by the John F. Kennedy Library; the LBJ Award for Leadership in Civil Rights from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum; and an honorary doctorate of human letters from Fisk University.