A Legacy of Involvement
Tennessee, as a state, has a long history of volunteerism; it is evident by the state nickname. The connection to social justice and community involvement for the impact of change has strong connections across the state. Locally, the struggle for civil rights is articulated and honored in the National Civil Rights Museum (http://civilrightsmuseum.org). But many of the major participants, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., organized and shared information for change a few counties away at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee.
Begun in the early twentieth century by Myles Horton, the Highlander school provided a place to teach and learn about civic involvement. It centered on community-based discussions and workshops that fought to empower local communities, and while its initial interests were for the pursuit of equality in labor concerns, the school eventually worked toward social justice in all realms. Though the school does not stand in its original form – it was closed in 1959 because of fears that it had ties to Communism – the Highlander Research and Education Center (http://highlandercenter.org) continues to provide support for grassroots efforts for change.