Popular American educator and Civil Rights Movement activist, Myles Horton, was born at the turn of the 20th century on July 5, 1905 in Savannah, Tennessee. At the age of 19, he enrolled in Cumberland College where he served as a major catalyst for social change leading a rebellion against the hazing of freshman by fraternal organizations. In 1927, Horton began teaching Bible classes to poor community members who lived in the mountains. It was his love for mankind and determination to manifest social change that compelled him to build a school which helped these people transform their deprived and impoverished lives. With the help of Don West, a fellow believer in Horton's ideals, he founded the Highlander Folk School in 1932 in Monteagle, Grundy County, Tennessee. The school's mission was to provide an educational center for the south which allowed poorer residents to be trained for the enrichment of the native cultural morals and ethics of the mountain people.
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 The school's license was revoked and property seized.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.
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