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James Bevel

Diane Nash – Unsung Hero Of The Civil Rights Movement

Black History: Special Delivery!!

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A native of Chicago, IL, Diane Nash (1938-) was one of the pioneering forces behind the Civil Rights movement. Nash and many other women  were champions of the movement.  She became active in the movement in 1959 as a new student at Fisk University in Nashville, TN.  While at Fisk she would encounter the harsh realities of segregation and prejudice that were previously unknown to her.  In 1959 she attended a workshop focused on non-violent protesting. She would quickly become a respected leader of Nashville’s “sit in” movement.  Her efforts were instrumental in organizing the first successful campaign to end segregation of lunch counters.  This effort engaged hundreds of black and white college students as volunteers.  She was also one of the founders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  SNCC would play a major role in the civil rights movement by engaging young college students in civil rights activism.  These efforts were successful and in 1960, Nashville became first southern city to desegregate lunch counters.  Continue reading “Diane Nash – Unsung Hero Of The Civil Rights Movement”

1963 Children’s March: Would You Have Allowed Your Children To Participate?

Black Mail:  Special Delivery!!

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On May 2, 1963 nearly a thousand elementary, middle and high school and college students in Birmingham, Alabama participated in The Children’s Crusade. SCLC staff member James Bevel proposed recruiting local students, arguing that while many adults may be reluctant to participate in demonstrations, for fear of losing their jobs, their children had less to lose. King initially had reservations, but after deliberation he agreed, On May 2, more than a thousand black students skipped their classes and gathered at Sixth Street Baptist Church. As they approached police lines, hundreds were arrested and carried off to jail.

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When hundreds more youth gathered the next day, commissioner Bull Connor directed the police and fire departments to use force to halt the demonstration. Images of children being blasted by high-pressure fire hoses, clubbed by police officers, and attacked by police dogs appeared on television and in newspapers and triggered outrage throughout the world. The Birmingham campaign ended on May 10 when the SCLC and local officials reached an agreement in which the city promised to desegregate downtown stores and release all protestors from jail if the SCLC would end the boycotts and demonstrations. While he faced criticism for exposing children to violence—most notably from Malcolm X, who said that “real men don’t put their children on the firing line”— King maintained that the demonstrations allowed children to develop “a sense of their own stake in freedom”

Black Mail Readers:  Would you have allowed your children to participate in march?  Why or Why Not?

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