Unsung Heroes: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Founding Member, Diane Nash
Diane Nash Was One of The Impactful Members of The Teen Movement During The Civil Rights Era
Every year like clockwork, February rolls around, and the commercials and movies such as The Color Purple and The Roots start playing. I love Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and the infamous Nat Turner Revolt; however, the repetitiveness showcased is insulting as if our history isn’t rich in its right, as if we are limited to just a select few people, during these times. What about the others… the unsung heroes, those that marched for the injustices that Black folk endured. I have two children, one in high school and one in elementary and I have witnessed how Black history has been slowly morphed and taught less and less in schools, and what’s taught is often far from the truth or erased altogether. Someone, please tell me when did slaves become workers? When did our history stop growing? Are we saying that since Martin Luther King Jr. and the occasional talks of Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman that the only other significant Black man that has contributed to our history is President Barack Obama? Has Black history stopped while all another history still is expanding with influential people even to this day? Why aren’t we learning more? Isn’t it time we find out more about our rich, robust and awe-inspiring culture and history?
Looking in the community and pool of Black history contributors I learned of Diane Nash, and in quite a few articles they referenced her for her beauty and the fact that she placed runner-up at a regional pageant that led to the Miss Illinois competition (which, in itself is still amazing). Ms. Diane Nash is, however, more than a beautiful woman. She is defined in Black History as a Black woman who has helped and contributed to the riches of not only the community but the history.
Born on May 15, 1938, in Chicago, Illinois, Diane Nash graduated from Hyde Park High School. After high school, Nash went to one of the well-known HBCUs, Howard University and during her sophomore year, she transferred to Frisk University (Nashville, TN), where she majored in English. While attending Frisk, Nash would find her passion and drive for the Black community. During this time Nash witnessed the cruel veracity of discrimination through her own eyes and became inspired to stand up against the prejudices that still plague this nation today.
Diane Nash is one of the most passionate and valued student leaders of the sit-in movement in Nashville and a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (Movement Leaders, 2010). Her contribution to Black history is truly extraordinary; she is not only an American Civil Rights Activists, or a member of the infamous Freedom Riders, additionally she is well known for her strategic role in orchestrating Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to go to Birmingham, Alabama in support of the Freedom Riders on May 21st.
I look at Ms. Diane Nash and see a great Black woman, who has stood by her people through all of the injustices. In her life she has seen the cruel way this nation can divide its population based solely on the color of their skin; she also witnessed how people can rally together to succeed at getting their voices heard. This woman is one of Chicago’s very own heroes that has helped pave this nation to where we are right now. And while we may not be where we should be in this day and age, think about what Diane Nash experienced firsthand. Think about our parents and grandparents and those before them and the struggles they went through. It has not been overnight, hell nothing worth fighting for is every truly easy, but there has been progression, and by the grace of the men and women who keep taking a stand we shall overcome.
There are so many influential souls in this world that are contributing and helping to try and make this nation as great as it can be that have the same color that I am proud to be. There are many Black men and women from the past to present that have given their lives so that even if it’s just one of us that survives, that our Black History is told raw and uncut in its entirety, with the truth and harsh reality that racism existed then and it exists now. We can’t continue to expect others to tell OUR story and then sit quietly when the stories change and become myths and nonexistent. Our history needs to be spoken and sung just as the great nursery rhymes, so that children may chatter and sing the rejoices of Black men and women and know that while the fight may not be over, we do not stand alone.
Today I wake up and look out the window, log on to the internet, turn the television on, and I am seeing more and more people stand up and voice their frustration of being unheard. Our people are once again saying “enough is enough you can’t erase our history for it runs deep and vast, and the truth shall always set us FREE.” It is time for a change; we can’t “Make America Great Again” until we make US great again. So while people are chanting and embracing let’s make America great again, I say America was built on slavery, lies, murder, and deception. Now is the time we acknowledge America for what it is and what it has done and instead of covering it up and erasing parts of history, embrace it because this is supposed to be the land of the free, not the land of the oppressed or the land of the people who stand divided.
Stand up in 2017 and embrace your culture, your color, your very essence of being who you are. Stand with me as we scream into the streets, over the mountains, through the valley, in the shallowness of the water to the depths of the sea, “Let’s Make Black History Great Again!”
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