Horton dedicated himself to breaking down the infamous color barriers of the south and worked alongside notable Civil Rights Movement pioneers including the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., politician Andrew Young, Fanny Lou Hamer, Stokeley Carmichael, and Rosa Parks. Unfortunately, the institution shut down 29 years later in 1961 after being cited for violating state laws against segregation. The school's license was revoked and property seized. It later reopened as Highlander Research and Education Center in 1971 at a new location, New Market, Tennessee.
Horton passed away in September 1990; however, fifteen years after his death, his principles of education still govern the decision making body of the establishment. It is still the mission of Highlander Research and Education Center to serve as an adult education center involved in social and economic justice activities and to fight economic injustice, destitution, prejudice, racism, and environment destruction.