Highlander Folk School 25th Anniversary


Between 1932 and 1962, the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, provided a valuable training ground for two generations of southern labor organizers and Civil Rights activists. During the 1930s and 1940s, the school was instrumental in unionizing textile, timber, and mine workers throughout the region, often working in concert with national organizations such as the Congress of Industrial Organizations. In the 1950s, Highlander became a seedbed of Civil Rights activism, holding regular educational workshops to promote nonviolent protest and encourage black voter registration. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the school hosted a Labor Day weekend retreat in 1962 that was attended by Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Pete Seeger among others. The event was filmed by Ed Friend, an agent of the Georgia Commission on Education, which later used the footage to discredit the organization as a "communist training school." Although faculty members defended Highlander's mission, the charges gained traction, and the state of Tennessee revoked the school's charter in 1962.

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