Lunch Counter Desegregation
In 1960, Diane Nash became the leader of the Nashville sit-ins, which lasted from February to May. Unlike previous movements which were guided by older adults, this movement was led by and composed of mostly students.
Students would sit-in at segregated lunch counters, accepting arrest in line with non-violent principles. Nash led the protesters in a policy of refusing to pay bail. Nash was chosen to represent her fellow activists when she told the judge (regarding the $50 fine they received), "We feel that if we pay these fines we would be contributing to and supporting the injustice and immoral practices that have been performed in the arrest and conviction of the defendants."
When Nash provocatively asked the mayor on the steps of City Hall, "Do you feel it is wrong to discriminate against a person solely on the basis of their race or color?", the mayor admitted that he did. Three weeks later, the lunch counters of Nashville began serving blacks. and which led to the desegregation of the city's lunch counters. Reflecting on this event, Nash said "I have a lot of respect for the way he responded. He didn't have to respond the way he did. He said that he felt it was wrong for citizens of Nashville to be discriminated against at the lunch counters solely on the basis of the color of their skin. That was the turning point... That day was very important."
In August 1961, Diane Nash took part in a picket line which was protesting a supermarket’s refusal to hire blacks. When local whites started egging the picket line and punching various individuals in the line, to police intervened. 15 people were arrested, only 5 of them were the white perpetrators. All but one of the blacks who were arrested accepted the $5 bail and were released. However, Diane Nash stayed. She insisted on her own arrest with the other blacks, and refused bail after her arrest.
The Freedom Rides is a time in history that can never be forgotten, known to be a very powerful and compelling movement. When Diane Nash and her fellow students discovered that the Freedom Riders had decided to cut their trip short at the Birmingham stop, the Nashville students promptly decided that they would finish the trip. They were committed, ready, and willing. "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," says Nash. So it was decided, in 1961, Nash took over responsibility and led the Freedom Rides from Birmingham, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi.