Spring 2013 Newsletter

The Movements of the '60s: A Legacy for Today

Diane Nash, a Chicago native and a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement, spoke at UIC on April 10 as part of the third annual Civic Engagement and Democracy Lecture Series to discuss what we can learn about civic engagement from the social movements of the 1960s.

“Freedom is a constant, never-ending struggle,” Nash told the audience. “Every generation faces their own challenges.”

Nash encouraged audience members to be active in fighting for social issues. She argued that change comes from people, not politicians, and that individuals need to mobilize in solidarity to shift from supporting projects to creating movements.

Nash told listeners that she and her fellow organizers followed the nonviolent philosophy of Gandhi to bring about social change in the United States.

Nash’s involvement in the nonviolent movement began in 1959 while she was a student at Fisk University. In 1960 she became the chairperson of the student sit-in movement in Nashville, Tennessee—the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters—as well as one of the founding students of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. In 1961 she coordinated the Freedom Ride from Birmingham, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi, a story documented in the recent PBS American Experience film Freedom Riders.

The “Civic Engagement & Democracy Lecture Series,” sponsored by IPCE brings leading thinkers, scholars, and practitioners to UIC. The series fosters dialogue on important topics that further understanding about the role of the university in facilitating and promoting civic engagement and strengthening democracy. Past speakers include Peter Levine, Director of CIRCLE/Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement and Research director of Tufts University's Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, and Matt Leighninger, Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC).


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