Freedom Riders heroine Diane Nash. Stanley Nelson’s film Freedom Riders debuts tonight on PBS. From PBS.org:
Elected coordinator of the Nashville Student Movement Ride, Nash monitored the progress of the Ride from Nashville, Tennnesse, recruiting new Riders, speaking to the press, and working to gain the support of national Movement leaders and the federal government.
Assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy John Seigenthaler recalls a phone conversation with Nash where he tried to dissuade the Nashville Freedom Riders from going to Alabama, warning of the violence ahead. Nash replied that the Riders had signed their last wills and testaments prior to departure. In his interview for Freedom Riders, Seigenthaler recalls, “She in a very quiet but strong way gave me a lecture.”
In 1962, she was sentenced to two years in prison for teaching nonviolent tactics to children in Jackson, MS, although she was four months pregnant. She was later released on appeal. Nash played a major role in the Birmingham de-segregation campaign of 1963 and the Selma Voting Rights Campaign of 1965, before returning to her native Chicago to work in education, real estate and fair housing advocacy. She received an honorary degree from Fisk University in 2009.