September 05, 2014, BY Kathryn Kopchik

Diane NashCivil rights pioneer Diane Nash will give the talk, "The Movements of the '60s: A Legacy for Today," Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building at Bucknell University.

Presented as the 28th annual Black Experiences Lecture, the talk is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

It is part of a series of events on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, organized by the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy and the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender (CSREG).

Associate Professor of Political Science and series co-organizer Michael James notes that "These two acts are the twin pillars of American civil rights law. The series aims to remember those who sacrificed for their passage, take stock of what has and has not been achieved, and challenge those forces that would resurrect the policies and practices of racial hierarchies in new forms."

A Chicago native, Diane Nash had never experienced segregation in public accommodations before moving to the South as a student at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., in 1959.

In 1960 she became chairperson of the student sit-in movement in Nashville, the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters, as well as one of the founding students of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.

A year later she coordinated the Freedom Ride from Birmingham, Ala., to Jackson, Miss., a story which was documented in the recent PBS American Experience film Freedom Riders.

Nash's many arrests for civil rights activities culminated in her being imprisoned for 30 days in 1961, while she was pregnant with her first child. She was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to a national committee that promoted passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She 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 humane letters from Fisk University, her alma mater.

Her work has been cited in numerous books, documentaries, magazines, and newspaper articles, and she has appeared on such TV shows and films as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Spike Lee's Four Little Girls, and PBS's Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965.

During her visit to Bucknell, Nash also will meet with students in a workshop on nonviolent activism.

The annual Black Experiences Lecture, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender each fall since 1987, focuses on the African American experience. The series has featured prominent activists and scholars from a range of disciplines including history, anthropology, political science and comparative literature. Recent speakers include Sami Schalk, Barbara Smith, Ben Vinson III, Michelle M. Wright and Melissa Harris-Perry.


 

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