“Many people who were to become well-known civil rights leaders—E.D. Nixon and Rosa Parks of Montgomery, James Bevel, Fred Shuttlesworth, C.T. Vivian, Bernard Lafayette, Bernard Lee, Dorothy Cotton, Andy Young, Hosea Williams of SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference], John Lewis, Bob Zellner, Marion Barry, and Diane Nash of SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee]—attended Highlander workshops.”
It was also Highlander that pioneered “Citizenship Schools,” in 1954, in the first place through the courageous and creative efforts of Esau Jenkins and Septima Clark on the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Citizenship Schools flourished, and it was Highlander that was responsible for their subsequent spread across the South, although in 1961 it turned over their administration to the SCLC.
In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement attempted to resuscitate the “teach-in,” especially with regard to the nature of neoliberal capitalism. In varying degrees of formality it seems, these were led by both individuals and groups (a few examples of the latter: the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Bowdoin College students, The New School, Center for Women’s Global Leadership)
Image: Ann Lockwood Romasco, Bernard Lafayette, John Lewis, and others at the Highlander Folk School [Photo: Highlander Folk School Collection, Emory University]
Please note: For a wonderful collection of photographs associated with Highlander, please see the collection maintained by Wisconsin Historical Images of the Wisconsin Historical Society. One picture I would have used here had I the time to acquire permission, was from a 25th anniversary event at Highlander and included Rosa Parks, Myles Horton, Aubrey Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. among others.