Civil Rights Icon to Speak March 7 at Notre Dame Law School

Diane Nash Photo

Diane Nash — one of the icons of the 1960s civil rights movement — will speak March 7 at Notre Dame Law School to deliver the Inaugural Dean’s Lecture on Race, Law, and Society.

“There is no better time to launch this new series,” said Nell Jessup Newton, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of Notre Dame Law School, “and I am delighted that Diane Nash, who has devoted her life to civil rights, will be the inaugural speaker.”

Nash’s speech, titled “Civil Rights Movements of the ’60s: A Legacy for Today,” is scheduled for 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. March 7 in the Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom in the Eck Hall of Law. The event is open to the general public.

Nash earned her place in the history books as a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and as an instructor for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She was arrested and jailed for participating in sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in 1960, and she was a leader in the Freedom Rides to force desegregation on public transportation in the South. She also played a central role in the right-to-vote movement in Selma, Ala., that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1964. She continued her activism by peacefully protesting the Vietnam War and working in support of women’s rights.

“Diane Nash’s life points to the power of faithful, nonviolent protest in the face of unjust laws,” said Jennifer Mason McAward, director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights and an associate professor of law. “Her leadership in the civil rights movement will inspire a new generation of Notre Dame students.”

Nash has received many honors, including the Rosa Parks Award, the Distinguished American Award from the John F. Kennedy Library and Foundation, and the LBJ Award of Leadership in Civil Rights from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. The University of Notre Dame awarded her an honorary doctorate of law in 2016.

The Dean’s Lecture on Race, Law, and Society is presented by Notre Dame Law School, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the Office of the President with support from the Department of Africana Studies.