Civil rights activist talks about bringing change through nonviolence

After a white supremacist mob bombed a Freedom Rider bus in Anniston, Ala., on Mother's Day in 1961, the desegregation movement that had been rolling down the interstate highways could have skidded to a halt.
Annie Zelm
Feb 9, 2012

After a white supremacist mob bombed a Freedom Rider bus in Anniston, Ala., on Mother’s Day in 1961, the desegregation movement that had been rolling down the interstate highways could have skidded to a halt.

The riders had barely escaped the burning bus. Some were beaten so badly afterward that they were unable to continue.

But Diane Nash was there, urging others to take their place.

“It was critical that the ride continued at that point,” said Nash, a nationally recognized Civil Rights activist who began her journey as a coordinator of the Nashville Student Movement Ride. “If the Freedom Riders had stopped, right after all that violence, we would not have been able to have a Civil Rights movement ... because the message would have been sent that you can stop a nonviolent campaign just by inflicting massive violence.”

Just a year later, five months pregnant with her first child and facing a two-year prison sentence for teaching nonviolent tactics in Jackson, Miss., Nash faced a more personal, pivotal decision.

She could have fled the state and avoided spending time behind bars.

But she knew if she did, she’d never be able to look herself in the eye. The thought of being separated from her child scared her, she said, but not as much as the thought of allowing her children to grow up in an unjust society.

“At that point, I felt ready for anything — ready to die, to feel pain,” she said as she addressed about 120 students and area residents Tuesday at BGSU Firelands. Her tone was both soft-spoken and self-assured. “There was nothing anyone could do to me.”

Nash, who also served jail time with students who were imprisoned after a lunch counter sit-in, talked about how she and thousands of others worked to bring change and how those same principles still apply today.

Some in the audience were old enough to remember the brutal acts that targeted even those who spoke out without using violence.

Others who were students drew parallels to the Occupy movements railing against corporate greed; they asked Nash for her take on it.

Although Nash said she’s encouraged by the fact that the protests are driven by ordinary people and attracting plenty of attention, she emphasized the importance of having clear objectives and taking action in an organized way.

“Future generations are depend-ing on you,” she said. “Freedom is a constant, never-ending struggle. Every individual, every generation, faces its own challenges. And when you’re faced with yours, step up.”

Whether they were young or old, black or white, those who came to hear Nash’s message said they left with gratitude and inspiration for those who came before them.

“I feel like a person of privilege because a person like Diane Nash paved the way for me to attain and achieve many of the things I’ve gained in my life,” said Brigitte Green-Churchwell, 47, a special needs coordinator at BGSU Firelands. “It’s overwhelming to hear her say they were doing this for the future generations.”

Comments

Bluto

I just read the militia article and this one about activist Diane Nash and it just floors me how these two very different philosophies are similar ( affect wise ) and that is to bring about change . One through non-violence the other through extreme violence . And it stands out which is most effective . Years after the Freedom Riders and the Civil Rights non-violent approach , there has been significant change and something to look back on with pride and inspiration . Then there is the opposite side of the coin with groups like this Hutaree , the KKK and Al Qaeda etc. These groups all do the same thing . They throw God in front of their cause and call it righteous . To me it is just blood lust with an excuse . It has always saddened me that there is just enough religious faith in the world to make us hate one another , but not enough to bring us together . I would like to thank Diane Nash and all others who have taken the higher path and made more of a difference than any other cause with blood in their eyes or on their hands .

grandmasgirl

And then there are those that don't use religion to bring violence into the world. They are people who do violent acts just because they want to, or because their ancestors were treated bad in days past. They blame their childhood, their race, their economic situation, their wife, their husband or anyone else they can think of. The world will always have violent people in it. We just need to stop pandering to them and their excuses. TO MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN HURT BECAUSE OF HATE AND IGNORANCE.

The Big Dog's back

 g g, that would be a valid point if "those days" were in the past. Unfortunately they are not.

mrjsiah

 And then there is people who because of their skin color and the color of the so called founding fathers continue to serve out hate and ignorance to whoever they feel . People need to stop the BS nomatter what you look like and who ever they are .

Red Baron

And then there are " Agent Provocateurs" that incite violence at nonviolent demonstrations in order for the police to come in and silence the activists and manipulate the perception of those that are sharing their voices as people that are "bad" and "violent."

FruGalSpender

Just a year later, five months pregnant with her first child and facing a two-year prison sentence for teaching nonviolent tactics in Jackson, Miss.     nothing has really changed. you have a disbarred attorney in prison for 8 years for non-violently standing up to crooked public officials.

Marcus M

frugalspender says "nothing has really changed. you have a disbarred attorney in prison for 8 years for non-violently standing up to crooked public officials."  No you had a person who attempted to use the law for her own personal vendetta and twisted version of the law! 

Truth or Dare

Thank you Ms.Nash,  the Freedom Riders and all that weren't afraid to stand up for civil/human rights of all, and from the very beginning, cause this movement started a long time ago. 

.  As  children, we grew up watching the News, Presidential speeches,  the speeches of MLK, Jr.. Presidential debates,  and then coverage of the Vietnam War  with our parents.  They insisted we watch, listen, and learn.  What is spoken of here, the non-violennt response is referred to as "Passive Resistance", something Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached and exemplified until that fatefull,  hatefull day on April 4, 1968.  I think it would be fair to say there was a conspiracy goin on, ya think?  The same goes for the assassination of JFK on Nov. 22, 1963.  Do ya all suppose it was a cowinkydink that the murders took place in southern states? 

Someone here mentioned the Hutaree.....the points you make are great.  You see, they consider themselves a "Christian" Malitia group.  Nothing Christian about talking/plotting/conspiring to kill a PO, then kill more at the funeral, w/of course no thought given I suppose to any and all innocent bystanders!

People, there are well over 1000 Hate Groups throughout our country that according to the Federal Govt.,  that have absolutely no problem using vicious rhetoric,  preached from pulpits and behind the cloak of secrecey, let alone are very willing to use violence to fulfill their personal agendas.  See, you don't embrace their ideology, well, your are damned in their eyes!  This my friends is what's referred to as Domestic Terrorists, and such groups have grown rather rapidly within the last 11 yrs., especially since 9/11, and even more so since  Obama was elected into the Whitehouse!   

 

origen

@truth

The problem with the "Domestic terrorist" moniker is anyone who disagrees with the admin in power can be considered a "Domestic Terrorist". The Patriot act is extremly vague when labeling people, The OWS can use molotov cocktails and bust windows, But that is not considered "Domestic Terrorism" But the mere mention of acts against the government will have them trailing you. It depends on which admin is in power and the views behind thier rhetoric. Whichever party that is in power has too much, Meaning the government itself has to much power to label people according to whims of those in power.

Marcus M

When they discuss racism why don't they ever discuss Al Sharpton and his racist antics, or the Black Panthers acts to intimidate voters during the last presidential election?  Bigots come in ALL colors.......

FruGalSpender

No you had a person who attempted to use the law for her own personal vendetta and twisted version of the law      marcus m, so why do men use the law for their own personal vendetta and twist the law to suit them? it's a man's world.  some men still believe that a woman belongs in the kitchen.             

FruGalSpender

No you had a person who attempted to use the law      marcus m. so if a woman ATTEMPTED to use the law, why does a woman get such a severe punishment? how much time do crooked cops and judges get for USING the law for their own selfish purposes? nixon used the law to start the war on drugs even though his advisers and experts told him that the war on drugs was not a good idea.

FruGalSpender

Bigots come in ALL colors....... seems to me that most bigots are men.

illuminoctis

 

mrjsiah says

-----------> "And then there is people who, because of their skin color and the color of the so called founding fathers, continue to serve out hate and ignorance to whoever they feel .

illuminoctis says @mrjsiah can you clarify what exactly you mean by referring to the founders as "so-called" ?

FruGalSpender says

---------- > "Bigots come in ALL colors....... seems to me that most bigots are men."

illuminoctis says @FruGalSpender you are a woman who just made a bigoted statement.. throughout history, i think you will find that racism usually involved families.. and that usually both the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, equally shared the bigoted views... and you claim it is a man's world (a statement i believe is almost fully outdated) so perhaps, due to that mindset, you tend to only focus on the male bigots.. bottom line, there are plenty of female bigots out there.. i come across them on the internet just as much as males

illuminoctis

HEY, BIG DOG!

i take it you are referring to the Wenzel/WND poll mentioned in this link --> http://www.politicususa.com/en/r...

you forgot to quote the most significant thing in the article!.. don't worry, i got you!..

the poll found that "Ron Paul fares best against Obama and he trails the president, 44%-40%." 

also that "The only Republican candidate who doesn’t lose at least 20% of GOP voters to Obama is Ron Paul......."

The Big Dog's back

 Ru Paul isn't going to win anything.

origen

WOW!! Arguing with the post He,Himself posted, Another milestone in stupidity!!!

The Big Dog's back

 illuminausious, why didn't you post the whole thing?

The only Republican candidate who doesn’t lose at least 20% of GOP voters to Obama is Ron Paul, and he loses 19%.

origen

Guess if it would have been posted in full the first time around Illumin wouldnt have had to elaborate on it huh? Yeah i get it the headline was as much as you could get through.