Highlander Folk School
The Highlander Folk School was founded by Myles Horton in Monteagle, Tennessee, with the purpose of training people to organize against big business. It was intended as a union training center. When Horton founded the school in 1932, the condition of the working class in the United States was quite dreadful. The nation was still in the throes of the Great Depression, millions of people were out of work, and those who were working often put up with abuse from their employers because of the scarcity of work. Often men and women would be fired from their jobs because they complained about the working conditions. The situation in the South was far worse than the situation in the North. Consequently, the Highlander Folk School became known as a place for the dispossessed to learn how to control their own lives and to speak out of their own interests. This was the image of the school until the 1950s.
During the 1950s, the activities of the school became increasingly connected to the civil rights movement. In some respects, the worker and civil rights movements merged at the Highlander Folk School. It was the only place in the South where blacks and whites could meet as equals and plan social activism. Because of this, the school earned a negative reputation with the local authorities, members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), and judges in the South. Those who attended the Highlander Folk School to learn about civil disobedience, union organizing, or voters' rights were often criticized, abused, and attacked. The Highlander Folk School was called “communist” by some who wanted to discredit it in the eyes of the public. Monteagle public officials revoked the school's charter in 1960, but the resourceful Myles Horton responded by relocating the school, first to Knoxville and then to New Market. In the 1980s, the school's focus shifted to balancing environmental concerns with the struggle for economic recovery in the South. Black Studies sees the Highlander Folk School as important because it was the venue for some of the important training of African American activists during the 1950s.
- Cleaver, Eldridge. (1968). Soul on Ice. New York: McGraw-Hill. This is a controversial book because in it Cleaver appears to have lost sight of his own cultural and social center, but the book is useful for understanding how the fight for civil rights merged into the black revolutionary movement.
- Colaiaco, James A. (1993). Martin Luther King, Jr.: Apostle of Militant Nonviolence. New York: St. Martin's Press. This is one of the best books on King's strategies for gaining freedom for African Americans.
- Forman, James. (1985). The Making of Black Revolutionaries. Washington, DC: Open Hand. This is Forman's principal contribution to our understanding of the nature of American society's response to the black demand for justice.