1960 May 10

Nashville Becomes First Major Southern City to Desegregate Public Facilities


Following the civil rights sit-ins on February 1, 1960, the Nashville Student Movement began a campaign to desegregate public accommodations in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 13, 1960. The Nashville movement primarily involved students from Fisk University and Tennessee A&I (now Tennessee State University). The Rev. James Lawson, an African-American minister and advocate of nonviolence as a strategy for social change, was a major influence on the Nashville movement, and Diane Nash was a prominent student leader. On this day, six downtown stores began serving African-Americans at their lunch counters for the first time.

The Nashville students — Diane Nash in particular — became instrumental in continuing the 1961 Freedom Ride. The leaders of the Freedom Ride cancelled the final leg of the ride in the face of racist violence in Alabama and flew to New Orleans. Nash (Go to May 4, 1961, for the start of the Freedom Ride, and to May 14, 1961, for the infamous Klan attacks on Freedom Riders and their buses.) Nash and the other students refused to retreat in the face of violence and mobilized a new wave a freedom riders that continued the Freedom Ride for several more months.

On June 16, 1961, Diane Nash and several other Freedom Riders met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy. In an act of conscience, they rejected his attempts to get them to call off the ride and they continued the Freedom Ride for several months.

Watch a documentary on the Nashville sit-ins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kzp7GOcIMfI

Learn about the Nashville sit-in movement:

Learn more about Diane Nash: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/nash-diane-judith-1938

Learn more: Iwan Morgan and Philip Davies, From Sit-ins to SNCC: The Student Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s (2012)

More about the Nashville sit-in movement: http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/nashville-students-sit-us-civil-rights-1960

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