Years later though she could recall almost every physical detail of what it had been like to sit there in that course on English literature, Diane Nash could remember nothing of what Professor Robert Hayden had said. What she remembered instead was her fear. A large clock on the wall had clicked slowly and loudly; each minute which was subtracted put her nearer to harm’s way….It was always the last class that she attended on the days that she and her colleagues assembled before they went downtown and challenged the age-old segregation laws at the lunch counters in Nashville’s downtown shopping center. No matter how much she steeled herself, no matter how much she believed in what they were doing, the anticipatory fear never left her.
Excerpt from the prologue of The Children by David Halberstam
When Villager I saw an old tree today recommended that I read The Children, I had no idea that I wouldn’t get past the first paragraph of the first page (above) before being stopped in my tracks. Once again, I was reading about a woman whose role in the Movement I should know; once again, I was confronted with my own ignorance, born of my own privilege. As usual with these posts, I am providing a mere gloss of the individual featured; in 2013, the newspaper, The Tennessean did a series profiling the leaders of the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, and their detailed overview of Diane Nash can be found here: Diane Nash refused to give her power away: Civil Rights leader Diane Nash played a critical role in pricking the conscience of Nashville. Read it, and then listen to Diane Nash. Hear her words; they’re as important today as they were in 1960.
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