Tennessee Preservationists Aim To Buy First Highlander Site

Aug 13, 2013

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, Rosa Parks and Ralph Abernathy at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, in 1957. (Photo by Highlander Center)

The Nashville-based Tennessee Preservation Trust aims to save a Tennessee site that was home to the beginnings of the civil rights movement.  

The Tennessean newspaper reports that Trust chairman David Currey wants to buy and refurbish the remains of the Highlander Folk School in Grundy County. 

Two cabins, a library and a lake are on the 13.5-acre property, which is now all that remains of the 200-acre site in Monteagle, Tennessee, where Myles Horton began the school in 1932.

Rosa Parks trained there, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior visited, and Pete Seeger introduced the song “We Shall Overcome” there.

State authorities revoked the folk school’s charter in 1961 in the wake of accusations that the school was a Communist training ground and that students were drinking alcohol there. The state then subdivided and sold parts of the property.

Horton then began the Highlander Research and Education Center in Knoxville in 1961, and then moved the Center to New Market in 1972.