When Diane Nash told her family she joined the civil rights movement, her grandmother told her she had “gotten in with the wrong bunch.”That didn’t stop Nash from using nonviolence to make things happen, and neither did being arrested dozens of times. Her work led to the desegregation of lunch counters in Nashville and sparked countless campaigns for civil rights.
Nash, a 75-year-old Chicago native, is most known for continuing the Freedom Rides from Montgomery, Ala., to Jackson, Miss., even after extreme mob violence against other riders.
“It was clear to me that if we allowed the Freedom Ride to stop at that point, just after so much violence had been inflicted, the message would have been sent that all you have to do to stop a nonviolent campaign is inflict massive violence,” Nash said in the PBS film “Freedom Riders.”
Nash will be the keynote speaker for the 30th Annual Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth hosted by Toledo Excel at The University of Toledo. The free, public conference for middle and high school students and their parents will take place Saturday, Jan. 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium.
“I think it’s going to be a great thing for students in this area to understand more about who she is and what she has to say right now,” said David Young, director of Toledo Excel. “She is a great advocate for peace.”
The conference is expected to bring in more than 600 students from Toledo Public Schools, youth groups, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club and more to campus. It was created to inspire students to take their lives into their own hands and introduce them to role models similar to themselves who lead successful lives.
“That’s always been the theme of the conference — to encourage students, inspire students,” Young said. “Even before I was director for Toledo Excel, I was involved with the conference because I thought it was such a great thing for students in this area.”
Along with hearing from Nash, the conference also will offer a free lunch for all attendees and separate sessions for students and parents. Attendees will have the chance to meet local leaders, including UT Senior Vice President for the Student Experience Kaye Patten Wallace, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez and Ohio Sen. Edna Brown.
Nash also will speak with UT students who are interested in hearing from her Friday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m. in Student Union Room 2582.
RSVPs for the free, public conference are encouraged; call 419.530.3823.