Highlander Center’s 87th Homecoming Honoring Social Justice This Weekend

This weekend the Highlander Center in New Market, TN will celebrate its annual homecoming celebration Friday though Sunday.

This marks the 87th year it has brought in activists and freedom fighters from across the country to take part in celebrating the legacy and work of social justice and the southern freedom fight.

This 3 day event consists of strategic discussions, skill-building and strategy sharing workshops, healing justice, youth-centered space, cultural performances, film viewings and discussions, book talks, and more.

Earlier this year an unknown fire destroyed Highlander’s administrative offices and graffiti associated with the “white-power movement” was found at the scene.

With massive nationwide support the Highlander Center has pushed through and continues to serve as a training ground for community activists across Appalachia and nationwide.

Formerly known as Highlander Folk School, it was primarily known as a training center for labor and civil rights activists from across the United States from the 1930s to the 1960s.  The center which, was  originally located in the town of Monteagle, Tennessee, was founded in 1932 by Miles Horton, a political activist, Don West, an educator, and James A. Dombrowski, a Methodist minister.  Its most famous students include Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, James Bevel, Ralph Abernathy, and current Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

More of Highlander History

Political enemies angrily erected billboards across the South showing Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks attending an integrated event at the Highlander Folk School in 1957. Highlander Research and Education Center.

Given the school’s role in training activists the school faced opposition. By the 1950s, Highlander was often attacked.  In response to the criticism, the State of Tennessee in 1961 revoked Highlander’s charter and confiscated its property. This action led the school’s staff to reincorporate as the Highlander Research and Education center and relocate just outside Knoxville, Tennessee where it has remained. 

Highlander’s mission states:

Highlander serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South. We work with people fighting for justice, equality and sustainability, supporting their efforts to take collective action to shape their own destiny. Through popular education, language justice, participatory research, cultural work, and intergenerational organizing, we help create spaces — at Highlander and in local communities — where people gain knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible. We develop leadership and help create and support strong, democratic organizations that work for justice, equality and sustainability in their own communities and that join with others to build broad movements for social, economic and restorative environmental change. 

If you would like to attend Highlander’s 87th Homecoming you may register here.

Angela Dennis is an Editor for Black With No Chaser and freelance writer residing in Knoxville, TN. Her work has been featured in multiple publications such as Knox News Sentinel, Blavity, Black Girl Nerds, and more.

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