1960 February 13

Nashville Students Begin Sit-ins


Led by Diane Nash and James Bevel, and inspired by Rev. James Lawson’s philosophy of nonviolence, 100 African-American students from Fisk University and Tennessee A&I University (now Tennessee State University) began a sit-in to desegregate public facilities in the city. The sit-ins were successful, and Nashville became the first major southern city to desegregate public facilities on May 10, 1960.

Nashville students, led by Diane Nash, later played an extremely important role in continuing the 1961 Freedom Rides by refusing to be intimidated by racist violence (May 14, 1961). On June 16, 1961 Nash and other Freedom Riders met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy and, in an act of conscience, rejected his attempts to get them to call of the rides and went on the continue the Freedom Ride.

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

Go to Nashville Civil Rights timeline: http://orig.jacksonsun.com/civilrights/sec2_tn_timeline.shtml

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

Watch the interview with Rev. James Lawson, expelled from Vanderbilt for leading the sit-ins, who returned as Distinguished Professor in 2008:

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

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