Chicago native, civil rights activist Diane Nash receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

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ByRob Elgas via WLS logo
Friday, July 8, 2022
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Chicago native and Freedom Riders civil rights activist Diane Nash received a Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago native and civil rights activist Diane Nash received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden Thursday.

Nash was on the front lines of the civil rights movement as one of the "Freedom Riders."

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Nash is a graduate of Fisk University in Nashville. Chicagoan Geo Cooper is also a Fisk alum, and six years ago was part of a Fisk Jubilee honoring her.

"She organized freedom rides. She was the organizer of freedom rides and that was monumental," he said. "Nashville was the first city, the first major city in the south to desegregate and it was really because of Diane Nash."

Cooper said it was Nash who, time and time again, quietly but confidently risked her life to call out the people who refused to acknowledge the racial divide plaguing our nation.

"The first time was when she confronted the mayor of Nashville on the steps of city hall and asked him point blank did he think it was right for the stores to discriminate against them solely on the base of race," Cooper said. "And he had to say as a man morally that he couldn't say that it was right."

When Nash received her medal Thursday, she insisted President Biden mention she shares this medal with countless others in the movement, and does not deserve all the credit.

That humility was also evidence when she spoke to ABC7's Hosea Sanders years ago.

"It took thousands of people to make the changes that we made. People whose names we will never know. And they'll never get credit for the sacrifices they made. But I remember them," she said at the time.

"She knows how to get straight to the question. She knows how to get to the heart of the issue," said Cooper.