Civil Rights Pioneer to Speak at William & Mary Symposium This Weekend is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Diane Nash will be the keynote speaker at this weekend's Lemon Project Symposium. (Courtesy College of William and Mary)
Diane Nash will be the keynote speaker at this weekend’s Lemon Project Symposium. (Courtesy College of William and Mary)

One of the civil rights pioneers depicted in the critically acclaimed movie Selma will be giving the keynote address at the College of William & Mary’s sixth annual Lemon Project Spring Symposium this weekend.

Diane Nash will be headlining Saturday’s portion of the symposium, which was founded in 2009 after the William & Mary Board of Visitors passed a resolution acknowledging the university’s involvement in slavery and calling for the establishment of a project to explore that history as well as William & Mary’s ongoing relationship with the African-American community.

This year’s event is organized around the theme “Jim Crow and Civil Rights in the Age of President Obama,” and will include a performance by the world-renowned modern dance company Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in addition to Nash’s address and other relevant panels and discussions.

Nash began her involvement with the civil rights movement when she transferred from Howard University to Fisk University in Nashville in the fall of 1959. Troubled by the segregation and discrimination she faced in Nashville, she helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in April 1960.

From there, Nash’s experience with the struggle for civil rights quickly escalated. Nash served time in jail the following year in solidarity with the “Rock Hill Nine” – a group of nine students who were imprisoned for a lunch counter sit-in in South Carolina.

Nash went on to coordinate the Nashville Student Movement Ride as part of the Freedom Riders movement. She also played a key role in the 1965 Voting Rights Campaign in Selma, Alabama – the period of her life depicted in Selma.

“Diane Nash, still a fearless advocate for social justice, will help participants explore the legacy of the era in her keynote address ‘The Movements of the ‘60s: A Legacy for Today,’” said Jody Allen, visiting assistant professor of history and managing director of the Lemon Project. “Cleo Parker Robinson will show us the movement through her choreography. We are so excited to be able to bring two formidable women to campus to share their experiences during the struggle for civil rights.”

Diane Nash will speak at 9:45 a.m. Saturday at the William & Mary School of Education. Her talk is free and open to the public but attendees are asked to register online here.

The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble will perform at the Kimball Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets to this performance are $7 for students and $25 for general admission; they can be purchased by calling 888-965-7254.

Click here for the symposium’s full schedule.