MLK Jr. keynote speaker Diane Nash praises student activism

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COLUMBIA – Diane Nash gave the keynote speech at Wednesday night’s annual Campus and Community Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration at Missouri Theater.

MU booked Nash for the event prior to student-led protests last fall. When asked about the protest, Nash said the leaders of the movement showed a lot of courage.

“People across the country, including me, are very proud and admiring of the students on this campus,” she said.

Nash spoke with some of the members of Concerned Student 1950 before the event. She said the young activists reminded her of herself when she attended Fisk University.

“They remind me of me,” She said. “I think the only way that this country is going to survive is if citizens take the future of the country into their own hands.”

UM System Interim President Mike Middleton and Interim Chancellor Hank Foley attended the event along with local leaders and members of the MU faculty.

Nash spent her time on stage talking about her experiences as a civil rights activist, which included a 30-day prison stint in 1961 and being appointed to a national civil rights committee by former President John F. Kennedy.

She concluded by saying activism is the only way progress will be made concerning racial inequality.

“[Activism] made my life worth living,” she said. “Every individual and generation has challenges. I hope people step up and face them because letting someone else do the work doesn’t result in change.”