Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Beauty Pageant Years

Beauty Pageant Years

More From Diane

In this video

A heroic Civil Rights leader, Nash was more consumed with beauty pageants than social justice as a teen.

Diane's Biography

Biggest Influence Never Met: Mohandas Gandhi
Three Attributes to Describe Herself: Truthful, loving, and strong
Most Meaningful Advice Received: “When I have a decision to make, I always make the choice that will make me proud of and will make me respect the person I see in the mirror.”
Most Proud Of: Ensuring the Freedom Rides continueddespite the massive violence intended to destroy the non-violent campaign.  Planning the Selma Voting Rights Movement in response to the Birmingham 16th Street Church bombing that killed four girls.  Being the best mother she could be.

Diane Nash, a Chicago native, first became actively involved with the Civil Rights Movement in 1959, when she enrolled in Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and came face to face with the pervasive segregation of the Jim Crow South for the first time in her life.  Her unyielding determination and courageousness, coupled with her “flawless instincts,” quickly made her one of the most respected leaders of the sit-in movement in Nashville. Nash's early efforts included orchestrating the first successful civil rights campaign to de-segregate lunch counters, as well as helping to found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a group that became one of the most influential during the Civil Rights Movement. 
 
Nash is widely recognized for her leadership in the Freedom Rides, a campaign to desegregate interstate travel. She worked tirelessly to recruit new Freedom Riders, and gain the support of national Movement leaders and the federal government. Nash played a key role in bringing Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. to Montgomery, Alabama on May 21, 1961, in support of the Freedom Riders. Nash later played a major role in the Birmingham de-segregation campaign of 1963, and the Selma Voting Rights Campaign of 1965. 
 
In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King awarded Nash and her husband, James Bevel, SCLC's Rosa Parks Award for their work. Nash remained active throughout the Civil Rights Movement, and later in the Vietnam peace movement. In 1965, Nash returned to Chicago to work in education, real estate and fair housing advocacy. She began lecturing across the country on women’s rights in the early 70s and today remains a prominent voice for human rights.

Related Videos

Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
First Woman Variety Show Host

A child of Hollywood, but not of means, Carol Burnett had to fight her way into the playwright program at UCLA. An acting class was a requirement and Burnett would always remember ...

Elizabeth Gore
Elizabeth Gore
Activist & Cause Marketer

Elizabeth Gore grew up working on her family's cattle ranch in Texas. Now the Vice President of Global Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation, she is currently managing...

Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor
First Female Justice at the U.S. Supreme Court

Sandra Day O’Connor is the daughter of ranchers—and, equally, of the land on the New Mexico-Arizona border that she and her family worked during the Great Depression. S...

Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Actor and Producer

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was hired out of college to act on Saturday Night Live. In 1990, she moved on to Seinfeld, playing Elaine, the show’s only female lead. Seinfeld debuted i...