From the Vault: Highlander Folk School 1960

In 1932, Myles Norton and friends formed the Highlander Folk School in rural Tennessee to help coal miners and other labor leaders understand what it takes to organize and demand livable wages and benefits for their families during the Great Depression. By the mid 1950’s, the focus changed to organizing participants in the Civil Rights Movement.

Some of the notable names that passed through the School in the first 30 years include first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Pete Seeger.

In 1960, KPFA Public Affairs Director Elsa Knight Thompson produced a 2 hour documentary about the School. She interviewed founder Myles Horton, Education director Septima Clark, Esau Jenkins and others to find out about early days of the School and the challenges since.

In 1961, The State of Tennessee revoked the Schools charter and confiscated the property. Myles Horton simply reincorporated as the Highlander Education and Resource Center and moved to Knoxville and later New Market Tennessee where it continues doing it’s work today.

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