Horton, Zilphia, 1910-1956


"Zilphia J. Horton, activist and artist, was born in Paris, Arkansas, as Zilphia Mae Johnson. A graduate of the College of the Ozarks, she grew up determined to use her musical and dramatic talents on behalf of the southern working class. In January 1935 she attended a labor education workshop at the Highlander Folk School, located near Monteagle. Two months later she married Myles Horton, one of the founders of the school. Over the next two decades, as a Highlander staff member, Zilphia Horton directed workers' theatre productions, junior union camps, and various community programs; organized union locals; and led singing at workshops, picket lines, union meetings, and fund-raising concerts. Though disillusioned with the post-World War II retrenchment of organized labor, she nevertheless worked to revive the Farmers' Union in the South. In the 1950s she helped initiate Highlander's Citizenship School voter education project on the South Carolina Sea Islands and was instrumental in transforming "We Shall Overcome," originally a gospel hymn, into a civil rights anthem."--"Zilphia J. Horton 1910-1956" The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved January 11, 2008: http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/.

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