Civil Rights activist Diane Nash to speak at OU

Longtime civil rights activist Diane Nash to speak at Oakland University

As part of Oakland University’s African American Celebration Month 2016, civil rights pioneer Diane Nash will visit campus on Monday, February 1 to share her experiences as a prominent activist who worked to promote racial equality during the 1960s.

Diane Nash speaks at OU

Diane Nash speaks at OU

Nash will present her lecture “The 1960s Civil Rights Movement” in two sessions with the first starting at 12 noon and the second starting at 3:00 p.m. Both sessions will last about an hour and will take place in the Oakland Center Gold Rooms B and C, on OU’s campus.

Born in 1938, Nash emerged as a passionate civil rights advocate while she was a student at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was a leader of the Nashville Student Movement, which helped coordinate a sit-in campaign to end racial segregation at lunch counters in Nashville and also became active with the Freedom Riders, who worked to desegregate interstate bus travel. She was also a founding member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a co-initiator of the Alabama Voting Rights Project and a supporter of the Selma Voting Rights movement.

OU history professor De Witt Dykes describes Nash as a committed activist for civil rights who ignored threats on her life and the risk of physical injury in order to pursue equality. In a span of six years, Nash worked with the Nashville Student Movement, The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and Dr. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She helped Dr. King and SCLC develop strategy leading to the integration of the Birmingham, Alabama business district in 1963. She was one of four women given special recognition at the March on Washington in August 1963.

The Birmingham Campaign demonstrated the need for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  She worked with Dr. King on voting rights in Alabama, activities that influenced passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

An excellent speaker with a clear memory, “Nash has firsthand knowledge of many civil rights activities, places and people,” Dykes noted. “She will urge all to be vigilant and fight current attempts at voter suppression. This is an opportunity not to be missed.”

Sponsored by the Department of History, and the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences, the event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information, contact the Department of History at (248) 370-3510.

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