|highlander folk school|
On 2 September 1957, King joined with the staff and the participants of a leadership training conference at Highlander Folk School to celebrate its 25th anniversary. In his closing address to the conference, King praised Highlander for its “noble purpose and creative work,” and for its contribution to the South of “some of its most responsible leaders in this great period of transition” (Papers 4: 270).
In 1932 Myles Horton, a former student of Reinhold Niebuhr, established the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. The school, situated in the Tennessee hills, initially focused on labor and adult education.By the early 1950s, however, it shifted its attention to race relations. Highlander was one of the few places in the South where integrated meetings could take place, and served as a site of leadership training for southern civil rights activists. Rosa Parks attended a 1955 workshop at Highlander four months before refusing to give up her bus seat, an act which ignited the Montgomery bus boycott.
Horton, who claimed he had first met King during his junior year at Morehouse College, invited King to participate in Highlander’s anniversary celebration in 1957. While attending the celebration, an undercover agent sent by the Georgia Commission on Education took a photograph of King. The photo was sent throughout the South and used as a propaganda tool against King, with claims that it showed him attending a communist training school.
Adams with Myles Horton, Unearthing Seeds of Fire, 1975.
Anne Braden to King, 23 September 1959, in Papers 5:290─293.
Glen, Highlander, 1988.
Horton with Judith Kohl and Herbert Kohl, Long Haul, 1990.
King, “A Look to the Future,” address at Highlander Folk School’s 25th anniversary meeting, 2