Communists at Highlander in Tennessee. Why is THIS IMPORTANT?



From Trevor Loudon:

Submitted by Trevor on April 7, 2006


The Highlander Folk School was constantly under attack for its alleged communist affiliations, teachings and personnel. The attacks were of course entirely justified.

The famous 1957 photo above shows Martin Luther King attending a session at the Highlander School.

Person 2 is Abner Berry, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party USA.
Person 3 is Aubrey Williams, president of the Southern Conference Educational Fund and a close associate of the Highlander School. Williams was identified as a member of the Communist Party in the testimony of two former members of the Party, Paul Crouch and Joseph Butler, before SISS in 1954.
Person 4 is Highlander director Myles Horton

James Dombrowski An early colleague of Horton’s at Highlander. Dombrowski had also been identified as a member of the Communist Party and as having accepted Party discipline by witnesses Crouch and Butler before SISS in 1954.

Carl Braden A long time supporter of the school. Identified as a member of the CPUSA in the testimony of Alberta Aheam, an FBI informant in the Party, before SISS on October 28, 1957. In 1954 Braden was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison for bombing the home of a black family who had just moved into a white neighbourhood. Braden attempted to place the blame on the white neighbours. Braden was released from jail when the Warren court declared all state sedition laws void.

Anne McCarty Braden, wife of Carl, pictured at Highlander in 1960. Also a member of the Communist Party, Anne Braden taught at Highlander for many years. She died earlier this year. Her Highlander obituary is here.

Pete Seeger The folk singer was a regular fixture at the school. He is pictured here with Martin Luther King, the Rev Ralph Abernathy and Rosa Parks. A member of the Communist Party from 1942 to 1950, Seeger is still alive and still a Marxist. Today he is a member of a Communist Party breakaway group, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.



The Highlander Folk School is NOW the Highlander Research and Education Center.

History – 1930-1953:
Beginnings & The Labor Years


Highlander was created in 1932 by Myles Horton and Don West in Grundy County, Tennessee. Theologian Reinhold Neibuhr wrote the first fundraising appeal for Highlander, and Lillian Johnson, a Tennessee educator and suffragist, donated her farm outside of the town of Monteagle where the founders established what was then known as the Highlander Folk School.

Highlander’s original mission, which has since been adapted and expanded, was to educate “rural and industrial leaders for a new social order.”

Workshop participants in front of Highlander's original main building in Monteagle, TN.
Workshop participants in front of Highlander’s original main building in Monteagle, TN.

The Labor Years

From 1932 until the mid-1940s, Highlander strove to build a progressive labor movement in the South among woodcutters, coal miners, government relief workers, textile workers, and farmers in the region. Highlander staff supported strikes and organizing drives and trained workers to take leadership in labor unions.

For a fascinating account of one of Highlander’s earliest labor efforts, see Myles Horton, Highlander Folk School and the Wilder Coal Strike of 1932” (PDF, 681 KB) by Angela Smith. (For a brief autobiography by Ms. Smith that explains her connection to this subject, click here.)
Zilphia Horton on the picket line
Zilphia Horton on the picket line.

In 1937, Highlander joined the southern organizing drive of the Committee for Industrial Organization (renamed the Congress of Industrial Workers in 1938). Highlander became an integral part of the labor movement in the region and conducted labor education programs with workers from 11 southern states. During this period, Highlander developed a residential educational program designed to help build a broad-based, racially integrated, and politically active labor movement in the South.

While the first black speaker at a workshop at Highlander arrived in 1934, the decision to fully integrate the workshops did not come until 1942, mainly because of fears of reprisal from the local community, and the resistance of labor unions. Until 1942, only field extension projects held outside of Highlander were integrated.

In 1944, leaders of United Auto Workers locals attended the first integrated workshop at Highlander. The integrated workshops defied the conventions of Southern society and labor unions of the time. Highlander’s racial policy reflected the staff’s belief that the success of the labor movement required confronting racism and the evils of segregation.

An integrated workshop at Highlander, mid-1940s.An integrated workshop at Highlander, mid-1940s.

These integrated workshops caused great controversy among segregationists and union leaders. Opposition leaders equated Highlander’s racial policies with communism and began a campaign to shut Highlander down that culminated in 1961.

…to 1953-1961: The Civil Rights Movement & The Citizenship Schools



The history behind the song “We Shall Overcome”:

We Shall Overcome” served as the theme song of the Civil Rights Movement and is now a worldwide anthem for freedom and justice. Since 1966, the Highlander Research and Education Center has administered the We Shall Overcome Fund, which is generated by royalties from the commercial use of the song “We Shall Overcome.”


Created to nurture grassroots efforts within African American communities to use art and activism against injustice, the We Shall Overcome Fund supports organizing in the South that is at the nexus of culture and social change.

Because of the song’s history and use in the primarily southern-based struggle against racism and injustice, African American communities must benefit from Fund-supported projects. We strongly encourage proposals from diverse racial and ethnic communities working in coalition to end racism, economic and environmental injustice, sexism and homophobia.



Highlander 75th Anniversary Circle of Support

Septima Clark Circle Member
The Ford Foundation
Ludlow Music, Inc

Sam & Florence Reece Circle Member
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Buck Maggard Circle Member
Needmor Fund
We Shall Overcome Fund

Esau Jenkins Circle Member
American Federation of Labor and Congress of
Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
Dolphin Foundation
Oxfam of America
United Food and Commercial Workers
International (UFCW)

Don West & Jim Dombrowski Circle Member
American Rights at Work
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
Courtney Cazden
First People’s Bank
Glickenhaus Foundation
Mary Moore
Barbara Newborg
Trillium Asset Management
United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)
University of Tennessee Ready for the World

Myles & Zilphia Organizational Friends
of Highlander Anniversary

Agricultural Missions
Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, University of Louisville
Appalachian Business Communications
Appalachian Community Fund
Berea College Appalachian Center
Big Creek People in Action
Carl Braden Center
Carpetbag Theatre
Center for Participatory Change
Center for Third World Organizing
Community Economic Development Network of East Tennessee (CEDNET)
Community Shares, Knoxville
Day is Done Foundation
Elizabeth Eason Architecture
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund
Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger
Graphic Creations
Greensboro Justice Fund
Jobs with Justice
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC)
Kentucky Foundation for Women
Labor Heritage Foundation
National Network on Immigrant and Refugee Rights
National Organizers Alliance (NOA)
One Voice
The Praxis Project
Project South
The Race Relations Center of East Tennessee
Rosenberg Fund for Children
Ross Publishing
Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM)
School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL)
Seal Heat and Air
SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective
Southern Echo
Southerners on New Ground (SONG)
Southeast Regional Economic Justice Network (REJN)
Stone Circles/The Stone House
Tacoma-Pierce County Progressive Roundtable
Tennessee Alliance for Progress
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC)
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), local 1995
University of Tennessee Press
Virginia Organizing Project (VOP)
Wisconsin Historical Society
Wyatt Insurance



Does THIS sound like the son of a peace movement leader (MLK)??  **Note he is speaking at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium at the AFL-CIO headquarters.**


WHY was the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s memorial contracted OUT TO THE CHINESE?

Related link:

Through Greed and Communism the Dream is Lost: The Martin Luther King Washington Monument


As reported by John Hayward in Human Events, in oddly bizarre fashion, the King monument was not commissioned for creation by Americans, but was rather given to the 57-year-old Chinese Communist, Lei Yixin. Yixin who is known among other things for his stone depictions of the Communist Chairman Mao Tse-tung. He thus created a depiction of King that some would say runs counter to a true reflection of the man and what he stood for. Martin Luther King Jr. looks decidedly Asian. The civil rights leader, who was known for both kindness and compassion, is reflected in stone by Yixin having a stern look on his face and with arms folded as if he is in opposition to those who view him. In the stone statue King also grips an unknown document with force, and one can only guess if the artist meant the document to be one with biblical scripture, the constitution, or one of Mao’s many versions of the “Little Red Book.”

Some have asserted that the carving of this statue should have been commissioned to a black artisan; however, I think that King would have preferred to look at quality of character, and artistic ability, over color of skin.  With that observation in mind, it is still hard to fathom that King would have wished that his memorial depiction to be created to exhibit a Communist mentality, certainly void of the Christian values he championed. The “angry Asian, the Communist Martin Luther King, Jr.” monument also includes inscriptions of many of King’s famous quotes, but minus his famous “I have a dream,” apparently, purposely omitted. This lack is almost fitting as little of King’s true Christian nature is on display.

The final note, in what has become a sad story, is that it appears that the King monument was never intended to be designed for posterity, but rather for family profit. As reported in the New York Post, the Martin Luther King, Jr., family charged to the foundation that built the monument $800,000 to use King’s words and image. This King family money scheme further removes the appropriateness of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial being placed alongside distinguished U.S. Presidents and fallen soldiers whose families never asked, nor received any residuals for the honor of being memorialized. Sadly, there are now no redeemable qualities to retrieve from exhibiting a King memorial in Washington, as both Communism and family greed have instead simply created an anathema of a monument now placed in the National Mall.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life deserves a more honorable and precise legacy than what is depicted in the new Washington memorial.

***Emphasis and italicization added***



Maya Angelou Says The New MLK Memorial Makes The Civil Rights Leader Look Like An “Arrogant Twit”

Legendary poet and author Maya Angelou is not happy about the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Specifically, she thinks the inscription carved into the side of the 30-foot-tall granite statue makes the late civil rights leader  look “arrogant.”

The inscription, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness,” paraphrases a sermon King delivered in 1968, two months before his assassination:

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

The memorial’s designers wanted to incorporate the quote into the statue, which depicts King standing with his arms folded as if he’s emerging from the stone. According to the Washington Post, a design change forced them to paraphrase the quote instead of using it in full.

Read more:


Was the quote that was paraphrased on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s memorial actually a design change OR an intentional statement?

WHO authorized the design change?

Did it surprise YOU to find out how the “We Shall Overcome” song, that was the anthem of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Civil Rights Movement originated?


Was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights Movement co-opted by Communists?


History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.


I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 


If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 




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