dianenash1This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, a non-violent protest in which a group of civil rights activists rode through the segregated South in 1961 to test the United States Supreme Court decision of Boynton v. Virginia. One of the leaders of the campaign was Diane Nash, a Chicago-native who was just 23 at the time.

Diane coordinated the second wave of Freedom Rides on her 23rd birthday, after the first was cancelled due to the bus drivers no longer being willing to travel any further. She and ten other students (Diane attended both Howard University and Fisk University) were jailed for protesting segregation and carried out their sentence, resisting bail.

We all owe so much to Diane Nash. She triumphed against the odds, not just as a black person, but as a woman and the Oprahs and Michelle Obamas of the world might exist today, but certainly not in 2011. She is a beacon of hope for all of us looking to pursue our dreams and make a positive impact on the world.

dianenashNot only that, but Diane is a classic symbol of the diversity of black beauty. There has been so much of a debate because of Lisa Price’s casting of light-skinned women for Carol’s Daughter’s newest advertising campaign, but women like Diane show us all that our complexion is not a meter of how black we might be. Our culture and history is such a rich and diverse one and to discredit or discount any black woman for not appearing to be “black enough” or for being mixed does such a disservice to the legacy of women who fought for us to be accepted as beautiful and equal. We span the range from Iman to Rashida Jones. We have to put an end to this color complex for ourselves and only then will the issue come to an end. Diane Nash and her work is a clear indication of what we can do when we come together.

What are your thoughts on Diane Nash and her legacy?

-Faith Cummings

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