Highland Folk School

“It behooves each of us to learn more of Communist infiltration and the direction of Communist movements.  Only through information and knowledge can we combat this alien menace to Constitutional government.”[1]  The “alien menace” spoken of in this quote is the famous Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee.  The Highlander Folk School was founded in 1932 as a center for labor movement education.  In 1953 the school adopted the civil rights movement, and over the next decade would host some of the most prominent civil rights leaders of the time including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thurgood Marshall.

As a center for “radical”  thought, the Highland School was investigated by the Georgia Commission on Education in 1957.  The commission published a broadside documenting the twenty-fifth annisersary celebration of the school, where the so-called investigator found that “they met at this workshop and discussed methods and tactics of precipitating racial strife and disturbance.”[2]  Adding to the fear of such communist activity was the fact that this was an inter-racial gathering.  The publishers of the broadside even included a picture of a young black man dancing with a white woman, an act sure to arouse anger within the white population.  This broadside, and further investigations of the school, invoked so much fear and anger throughout the South that in 1961 the State of Tennessee revoked the school’s license and shut its doors.  The school would eventually reopen and continues its work today.   
 
 [1]”Highlander Folk School: Communist Training School, Monteagle, Tenn.” Georgia Commission on Education, 1957. http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/highlander/efhf003.pdf

[2]ibid.

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