thumbnail of Thirty Years of Civil Rights Education in the South / Myles Horton
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How do you whether we ought to talk as much about Islander as we ought to talk about. Miles I think he's almost as much of an institution as Highlander and good reason for being because for a lot of miles 30 years or to thirty two years he's plugged away at a job which most people would have given up many many times in the light of the discouragements and troubles they were subjected to. But not Miles and he has a satisfaction which many of us envy him of having seen the fruit of his works. The developments that have occurred as a result of his own leadership but Hylander some of us who've been in adult education a long time have known Hylander chiefly because it represents. About the only institution in the United States which ever made a successful adaptation of the Scandinavian folk school movement to the
conditions in the United States Miles is chiefly responsible for having brought this about. And I'm chiefly interested in the little interview we're going to have to find out what's going on at Highlander today. The talk not so much about the past but of the present in the future. And my questions to open this up will be directed primarily at the kinds of things which are going on a Highlander today and the kinds of hopes smiles the new staff have for their future service not only to the south but to this entire nation. I would say Miles that if you would take a few minutes. To open this up in terms of describing some of the things which are going on there now and will feel free to interrupt you and the group will have some questions I know. This might give us the sort of understanding of what Islander stands for because I know there are people here who know a great deal about the history of
Highlander Folk School. There are people who probably never heard about it until they got the invitation to come to our house tonight. Somehow we'll try to strike a balance here. Tell you something about the work of the school. I do think we would all and I particularly would like to know more about what is cooking so to speak at the moment and what you see as the major program objectives for the year or two ahead. Thank you Paul for the benefit of people here who are not familiar with Honduras. Many of you forgot more. Not only is primarily a residential adult education center it works with. The field of problems economic social and other problems in the south through. Week or two week residential workshops we bring together people from different parts of the country both white and
Negro for discussions of of crucial problems that present we're concerned primarily with helping to develop leadership to bring about first desegregation and then integration in the south. Our activities are concerned primarily with the broad field of civil rights. Consequently we've been working the last two years with those organizations which are most actively involved like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference headed by Martin Luther King. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee headed by John Lewis. And by the people who work in corps in Double-A CPA and other organizations of that kind in the south to these groups have come within the last year or so. Some church groups some civic organizations and some few labor organizations. I think maybe I could best help you to understand what our role is
by telling you that within the last couple of months we have run these workshops both at our home base in Knoxville Tennessee and in different parts of the South. We had a group of leaders these various organizations come for a week of of training mostly people who were potential teachers as as a result of this kind of program we started having workshops in Mississippi Alabama Georgia and South Carolina where some of these people were used as as discussion leaders and teachers our aim is to try to develop as many people as we can who can carry on the Hollander type programs in the south. We feel that instead of bringing everything into our center. We can be more helpful if we will try to encourage development of similar centers throughout the south and one way
to do this is to hold our own programs and other places. I'll give you a few examples recently so you may have read about the write in campaign that was conducted in Mississippi where Negroes now for the most part been denied the opportunity to vote for in elections. As a result of that campaign thousands of negroes cast their ballots which weren't counted. And we had a workshop in Greenville Mississippi. Sponsored by the end of Lacy pico or snake and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference where we tried to evaluate that program and decide on what was to be done in the future. This program lasted for some six to seven days. We were living in. In houses near a Catholic school which had been turned over to us as a base for our our discussions and classes as a result of that
program some very interesting decisions were made. You're familiar with the activities in the south the primary problem having to do with the city and demonstrations of voter registration. Bendish into these programs. This group of people decided that they want to start some some what they call institutions that Negroes themselves would control. They want to start a little community centers in the delta region of Mississippi and throughout other parts of the South where people could be trained adults and whole families could be trained in doing things for themselves. It's hard to understand Leslie Bennetts section that there's there's almost a feudalistic society where Negroes have never been allowed to learn even how to sew. They didn't work in the cotton fields they don't know how to do much of anything except. Manual labor for the plantation owners and the idea was it that have little
centers where people could learn how long to do how to read and write so they could register and vote. Not only about the issues of the day but learning something about like a home economics course learn a little about civics negroes aren't taught anything like that in the schools even if they get a chance to go to school. This is the organization to think of primarily as having demonstrations sit ins facing the dogs and the hoses and begin to broaden out. This workshop was led by a not by how understaffed people but by by people who had taken part. And about six other workshops that we had previously conducted in the delta. All of these workshops had grown people who were able to run their own workshops and they in turn were encouraged by us to go back in their own communities and train other people we're trying to multiply the Saudia of education. I went from there to Selma Alabama like Selma Alabama. It's a place where some of you may have read that the local
grand jury subpoenaed the Department of Justice to appear before him and explain why they have started all the trouble in Alabama. I. Had a hard time finding a place to meet there. We. Finally found a Negro church where we could hold our classes where our lunch could be served. A negro restaurant offered to feed us and we were housed in the housing units called Freedom House of the set up throughout the south and a neighboring house. We stayed there for about a week. The teachers there were people who had been leaders in the activities. One of them had been in jail in America's Georgia. Some of you are familiar with the highlights of the things that happen in the south they were arrested for on a charge of some laws passed during or. After the Civil War before the Civil War or some version of. It. I don't know but I forget all these charges now that really there's no connection between what people are doing the charges I can say this from personal
experience. But. One of the teachers in our workshop was one of the people just gotten out of jail he'd had time to do a little thinkin and I figured he might be a good teacher. A lot of these people are well trained college graduates some of the teachers some of them are still in school and before these the service workshop I've got these people together for a couple of days and. Told him that they were going to be the future teachers and they had to learn to leave discussions they didn't like the idea because a much better sedans and demonstrations going today on the fire and the dogs and the fire hoses. But. They're willing to do what it takes to even think a little if it's necessary. To do the job. We had a very successful workshop where we talked about how you could get primarily get Negroes registered in the delta. Some of the problems of the Gulf and the local leaders from how do you organize a community how do you involve the older people in a in a in a conservative community how do you deal with the white police force. Everything was nice and
peaceful. The only excitement we had was when we went to this one negro restaurant where we could eat we had about 15 or 20 white people there about twice as many negroes some negroes in the country came in and saw white people there and it back out the door and said they weren't going to come in they want to get arrested. But we were there a couple days they started coming in and it's very interesting to see these negroes who had never had any contact with white people before. Come in first look actually belligerently and then smile and sometime the margin. Occasionally they come over and sit down at our table. It's a new experience. But things seem peaceful enough. Two days after the workshop ended the Office of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Freedom House rated everybody who was left behind was arrested all the records were destroyed including a lot of educational material we left behind.
And all the reports that were being typed up on this workshop are all confiscated now in the hands of the local authorities. This could have happened earlier just as well. Fortunately it didn't because we had other places to go other activities to carry on. You know earlier we tried on a variation of this program down in the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia where we brought together. For a two week period people from the Deep South for one week there were in a residential workshop where we discussed problems the tremendous lot of singing because singing is terribly important. And then another week they left out of the community with the people in kind of an internship relation then came back to discuss what they had learned and then went back to their communities to to put into practice the ideas Aetate got and we did a two week session on the meat. We did another two week session and we ended it with a folk festival folk music
festival. Where we brought together the only traditional singers from the ones who sing songs that go back as far as memory goes. With the new freedom singers whose many of whose songs are based on some of the songs that they were singing some of you may have heard the Saint Simon religious singers I think they were here last year and I'm sure they've done some records the same thing the only songs that we know are. They were surprised to learn that some of the. Students and people active in the in the freedom movement were saying variations of these songs with new words. And it was interesting to have them on the same program of Alan Lomax there is an authority on photos and he said he'd never seen anything like this. It's kind of a program. But
I mention this because Singing has always been a very important part of what goes on the song that has become the theme song I guess of the movement we shall overcome with an old song. How old are found in 1940 something and brought rolled up put in put into music put in books and it stayed dormant for a number of years and then came to life and is now being sung whitewashing the songs are important. But I don't want to give the impression that this all takes place without opposition. I gave you an example of a near hit. Sometime it's they don't miss. Let's close our workshops. They have stopped us they've arrested our people arrested staff members they've come in with vigilante groups and broken up our our programs. After one of the workshop I mentioned down the Sea Island some of the people were
going back to Mississippi and. They were arrested in the bus station. Some of you may read about that five I'm arrested beaten up they were taken in jail. Because they want to use a. What was supposed to be a public restroom. And. One of the negro prisoners was ordered to beat two women mercilessly. He had the foot elected couldn't stand up. The case was. One of the few cases where Department Justice came in without. Any action being taken by any of us and took the case as a federal case. Get the people out of jail. One of the one of the two of the people there were women one of them was of Mrs Hammer who who lives near Senator Easton's plantation and Sunflower County on the Delta
One he's probably never been past the fourth or fifth grade is a wonderful spirit a wonderful voice wonderful determination and the young lady who was whether I have her in May. And that's a trained social worker. She has decided to work for the. The movement and she's running the citizenship school program in Mississippi. This is the program which Howard developed several years ago and we turned over to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and they were looking for an educational program and provide them with some stay often. And this young lady is running that program in Mississippi three days later. We were running a workshop in Greenwood. These two people who were told never to have anything to do with these programs came to those workshops. They were so bruised and beaten they couldn't even sit down but they say this is the spirit in the south. Well Paul I could go on but I Miles I know from some of the
reports that Ellen gets as a member of your board that you're doing a good bit of this work now in other states how does the divide between the Knoxville Center and these other locations you've been referring to. Well more and more we're spending. We're spending more time away from the center using the center mainly for planning programme working up materials setting up programs and using other people's facilities because we hope. To do with them. Last about a year ago our board approved the idea of our holding workshops other places and trying to stimulate other hollar type workshops since then we've concentrated on on holding our workshops and other places we DO ABOUT TO away for everyone we do it in Knoxville. And we do that because there where we hold a workshop. We hope. That we give people ideas that they can follow them say if they can they can observe they can help. And then when we leave there's something something left behind
I would say that we've got two such centers far enough along that we pulled out now they would run on their own list of I think the new approach that it's working out very well. Now you mentioned the leadership training programs that some of these off campus some on what we call off campus on campus. Tell us a little more about the substantive nature of some of your other programs. You do more than just leadership training important as that is well served up to do well a lot of times we. Work on programs on community development so we have a problem in community development. Are our desegregation the school. Are a program on equal opportunity on jobs in which for example if we ran a program on equal opportunity we might bring in each of these programs. So we have a skeleton staff of up of four full time people in two part time people that do this. But when we had three or four
people if we need them in these other if we say running a program like full of full opportunities would bring in maybe somebody from the from the partner of labor I would bring in somebody maybe from if it was a Knox an oak ridge or TVA he would bring in some people from some of the universities around who are our consultants or teachers on these subjects and and staff the whole workshop with with the with. Specialists are people who are some but there are centers where you can get these kinds of supplementary resources. Oh yes we have we have I would say in a year's time we probably use a hundred people. And we know with due apologies to the universities we know who from the universities can teach our kind of people who can't and who from government agencies can present the stuff certainly aren't stamped who can't you know titles don't help us much we've had to learn. Through experience who can relate. You can you can understand how to
deal with these people and we have a kind of a preferred list. We try to get we always trying to find new ones. I just talk to the school this morning and the source of director Conrad Brown who came to us from from the cornea farms down in America's Georgia will depend a lot of experience in trying to carry on a program with a lot of opposition. It's running a couple of workshops next week one in he would care only to see where the need goes. Couple years ago decide to register more along with the owner of the plantation or the tent city. And another you wouldn't know workshop down in Albany Georgia for Negro rural negro ministers. Now most of these Negro ministers in the rural south of don't have any kind of theological training in very little academic training of any kind. You know the Lord tells them what to say and they say it. And well learn I'm say the right thing not a good thing.
There were established communication. I. Tried to always try to figure out how you tapped in on that line but I never made. But they they they they took a lot of good ideas and they know how to present them. But they also need some additional information and and are willing to take it if the right people approach them and use people they have confidence in particular is a white person takes about twenty five years to get status. You have a few things in your favor they are they born in Tennessee where they they they kind of take in you know they are there negroes say we don't have time after time in our workshop to go get up and say we don't have white people we don't talk to any white people and white people talking to us. We're not going to do with white people and if any white people try to you know to work with us we just tell them to go along and but
you know we never say anything. We just pretend that they're not like. Lois except just why we don't bother. Well this workshop is to give an example. They're going to try to teach these this workshop these ministers something about the laws something about community organization something about sources of information something about resources that they can draw like we draw on other people something about using movies or things that they never thought of using something about starting discussion groups and developing leaders. Something about how they can relate to these organizations to how do we do that. Only one person from hunger will be there. Don't be a staff of about five people drawn from many of the universities and in the Atlanta area one from Vanderbilt. All these are in this particular group or are either people who are in the field or some a sheltie or economics you have something to contribute. Are people from
theological seminaries who insist that we build up a staff of that case five people with one staff person and this program will be run now. This illustrates I think what how we operate so when you and you talk about. Somebody asked me earlier how many students we had lost all I can tell you is how many come to these workshops but if it works right then they go out and get other Steve Doocy. And you just you don't know. You tell only the initial group you work with but you involve not only the stew people who take part as participants in the workshop but that the structures as well this is a new experience for them and they are encouraged to use this kind of method. So what we're trying to do. Yes propagandize for our way of care an educational program and spread it out is as fast as we can we had one kind of success story that made us think that this was a fruitful field. When the Southern Christian Leadership Conference decided they want an educational
program. We were offered to turn over to them a program we've developed over a period about five or six years which is called the system ships to program where we took volunteers to be to be a person hadn't didn't have much education but self-educated to be a retired person it could be anybody professional person who was interested in spending some time teaching other people to read the rights of they could register and vote. We take these people give up weeks training and then we would they would they would in a supervisor for an area and they would run classes twice a week for three months. As a result of these classes which lasted about two hours a two and a half hours each evening within three months time over 80 percent of the people we taught. Past our examination now when was our examination in a state that required people to read and write before they registered and voted our examination was that they passed they
qualify as voters and we said that maybe we had 80 percent of the we worked with who were who were registered voters as a result of this program while this program was was fairly successful. Korda Hollander standards we try to develop ideas and and we have limited staff and funds so we don't try to cover the universe but we had about 30 of these schools go in about 70 of these schools going. And when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were looking for a program we said here is an opportunity to expand this program and we say you can have this program would give it to you will teach you how to run it will furnish will set you up and business will provide staff training and we will we will get you going and then you take it from there. I got a report from them and they had 700 schools. Let's jump from the seven we were running to 700 and we hear the one staff person and all right ideas. I submit that this is more effective than anything we could have done running this program ourselves. So this kind of gave us an idea. If you try to develop
programs that we could you know pass on to other people and help them to present. I've been asked by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee snecked to an educational program for them. They didn't know particular what they wanted John Lewis for the student how her present organization one of their leaders have been hounded and they turned to us because we'd like to have an educational program. I think you might be interested to know what what what what we plan to do I said we will not run your educational program for you. We will train. People from your organization to run their educational program will set you up in business will make it your program and will stay with us long as you need us. But from the beginning it will be your problem. So I made a proposition to own the money. Everybody who goes into the field has to take this program you have to furnish me the people I train for the program. You've got to do this that never think it's going to be your problem what will help you set up in a way that's OK that you know I don't know any better.
So they go along. Well now this is I think illustrative of how we feel at the school like that should work we have no intention of trying to cover the south or trying to take over these programs we don't want to do that we want to we want to train other people and this is what we call under tight programs just as a matter of description. But programs that are not connected with this is the nature of the problem. Well why don't some of the rest of you comment on this. While we limit our progress primarily to Southerners not because we want to discriminate against northerners. We think they're about equal but. We feel that in the light of things happening in the south that are pretty significant today.
And we have done all we can do there and the other thing is we know something about the South you know the problems we've worked with them we know the history. We know a little bit about our own color which is an advantage we had opportunity to learn much less about Negroes which is what little we've learned it's an advantage. And we felt that for the time being we should we should work in the south. But this is not a rational decision. I'll tell you that right now because. The problems that we're facing in the south are problems that are our. Are becoming a pair. Most all over the country. And there's no reason why this kind of program might not have some application is just that we feel we should wish to limit our time not what we would like to do is if people other parts of country are interested we would like to to help some other group get going and
help have some of the experience we've had ideas we have through to other groups but we wouldn't be interested in you know the international trying to work out and I still want to say anything about the breakdown in terms of very well right now most of the students in the Deep South. The local people in Mississippi down there are Negroes. The people from the outside who come in to work on the staff are about equally divided between Negroes and white. So you get so into the nature of your program if you work with the staff of a like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee it would be almost 50 50 if you're working with the local people trying to train leaders for these little community organizations that talked about then this would be by definition equal and in that case if the majority negroes we run we run workshops some time when the All Whites only grow and their mixed Percentage wise I would say the majority 60 about 60 40 negro negro
now and I would say the question is. No really I don't know why the right question but I see so you're going to support somebody. Yes in Knoxville for example where we have our headquarters there. There is a small but very small student group. And they are the only Negro group that would fit into this category baby they end up Lacy pianists made up mainly of professionals and arts are backing and it's substantial and decisive. Next situation comes from professional Negros in Knoxville. Ministers lawyers doctors teachers are backing locally is just from the professional people and we call on them to help with
teaching and. We have board members and staff members drawn from that group. This is I'm putting my best foot forward on that answer because in Knoxville the professional group is the most important and in every way. But in the delta. You don't find it that way. The Negro school teachers negro doctors quite often are sitting it out now. You have a few Negro teachers professors and few business people to rest in operations but for the most part in the Deep South. The professional negroes are not getting too involved. This is a very unfortunate situation. And it may be decisive in the end where we've had our most success.
When I say we I mean in the movement not not how it was in places like Nashville where we had. As a result of the student demonstrations and activities to start with then the adult Negro community and the professional community got involved and there was a effective boycott. Turn the tables and this was a total involved of the whole Negro community and part of the white community and this to me is just what should be done and one of the things that we are facing in these more militant organizations right now is the St. Paul to day one of our problems in these workshops is to get them to take a new look at what they're doing to see how far they're going to be able to go without reevaluating their approach and taking in a larger community if my with with. My hats off to people who are courageous and willing to make these sacrifices. But I I have to say that I don't think the
victory will be won without the cooperation of the at least the large portion the Negro community and this is one thing that I think is taking place in the thinking. It's not too good outside of the big centers. For reasons which I think anybody knows the south can easily understand. To the other end you know white people need to say are we going to give the impression that there's just an ecosystem that professionals go through a typical request from the community for a workshop. Where it comes from and then when you run. A peaceful place like some of you on the cover of darkness aside from the Negro church which showed you in the restaurant which feed you does the commute in the large you know the Highland troops of the right. Well in Selma. I was asked to go down there by Jim Foreman the second secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
And I. He's foreman and Lewis the president both familiar with hunger the way we operate. I called the local director of snake file name worth Long who had been in school and when I didn't know and asked him if he understood what was involved and he said he didn't know too well and I said the first thing is that if we come out on a workshop we don't want anybody in a demonstration anybody get in jail we want we want to have a chance to peacefully sit down and talk just saying over and I said. I don't want to go to jail I won't get beat up I was beaten up a month ago and I'm still sore I don't want to have the program interrupted by getting arrested. I want to. Run a workshop so your job is to sit nothing happens to me. Now I said I can't run a workshop without some people in it so you gotta see if nothing happens to you or anybody else while I'm down there we won't do business.
If you this is the first thing we got to have a little you know moment of silence if we can get it. And now the thing is I want you to select some people that I can use as discussion leaders in advance and tell them what they're going to have to meet with me two days in advance for a long training period. I said you know. Explain the thing. This all sounds rather simple but when you talk to somebody who's used to demonstrate in every day and this is like almost saying Call off your movement just stop the work stop the universe and you have to be kind of in things to be able to get by with that because they say well you know you don't want to get in trouble you know if these these guys are you know they are they don't want to get in the movement. But I've got myself in a position where I can say I do it this way I don't do it I go somewhere else. Because you can't run educational program and you know demonstrate the same time. Well this is the kind of polemic I go down there and we have the meeting we discuss things we set up the program but
nobody knows about it but the Negro community and one Catholic priest who worked with him now it didn't because the secret is presented because the white community doesn't know wouldn't care what goes on the Negro community. You just don't know. None of the audience did not concern. It's a different world. And the you know point tell us. Let's join our ignorance over there that's really going to knock wood that way and we are wide open when we have no secrets about it. But it's it's private in the sense that you know that they don't pay much attention to what Negroes or people associate with Negroes do. Maybe this is really this race to the white man with the White House you know the person who would come to our meetings on a person take part. And before I left he was hauled into court. And investigated and then a judge says How long have you been here he
said 14 years so I thought so. Right up. How about outsider. I'm not I'm not. Absolutely getting support from you. Oh yes you know she got talk about the delta 9 in Knoxville we have because we have we have workshops and meetings there except for there were special organization we have to have 90 percent white. You know majority of white situation. We work with a lot of professional groups and groups a lot of white people there where we more stably some time at the deli. We have don't get the impression that that that that weird you know kind of isolated small white people and only people you talk to are negroes and you know we're suffering down there because we're you know all involved in the same with when we get around your friends.
In fact in Knox family we've the chief of police and the sheriff came out to see me at my invitation. It's not always that way. And. We discussed this thing and this was right after some of you may recall it for the name of Barnett who was governor of Mississippi and testified. WASHINGTON The Martin Luther King was a commis because he'd been the Communist training school that showed pictures on TV of Martin speaking in song. Well it's a little rude to surround it with you know all of the princes and and a lot of protest came in that we should be run out of Knoxville and I invited people to talk it over. And I was very frank with this man I said Look I.
Said Well why is it you always get in trouble. And I said well I don't like to get in trouble I thought I'm always on the receiving end. But I mean I don't like to you know lose my home lose my eyesight almost. And we kept awake at night with telephone calls to Windows for us this is not a fun i don't do it because I don't I just happen to believe certain things. And this is what the school is for and he said well why couldn't you change the school and do something when get in trouble I said Well. I said Well I've been in competition with to manouver school. Good morning. Saturday I said. After all you know we don't we don't take a public opinion poll decide what to teach you know we believe in what we're doing and. And we've done it I said. And unfortunately for you I said I was born here and my people were here for this was a state and and I know where to go but
here and I'm going to stay here and I'm never going to leave and I'm always going to teach this way so we might as well talk about it. And we talked and he laye often did something with a rather unusual. He made a statement to the press that he had talked to maybe the sheriff or talk to me and they were convinced that Hollander was was not subversive we were not a communist goon as Barnett had said we were we were unpopular. And he said don't come with Horton is it he's been in immigrations for 30 years. And he says if anybody has got any evidence that they volunteer long I'd be willing to examine it but I don't want to hear more rumors. This was the state with the chief of police in the paper. He's been back a couple times just the visitors you know he got very worthwhile. Sometime he
has some problems you know we know some people who support he'd like to help. We have friends. And. This is a public official and not for the Brits. John Birch Society is. Pretty strong there. The Klu Klux Klan has a state headquarters nearby. They burned one of our camps this summer. They've they keep making making threats and they tried to make our an issue in the recent city elections the mayor was up for re-election. And they demanded this be the issue. The birch ice and the Klan but the conservative group didn't take it they say they didn't want to make it issue when they passed it out but we weren't the issue we were any mention and the people who supported housing one. Didn't come with one. So I use all the things
all a bad thing to hear about our food but there are some good things to insult me about. We do have trouble and I don't mean I want to paint the picture. It's any more rosy than it deserves to be but I don't want to get the feeling that that we spend all our time you know incredible or all of our time you know I. Mean skeg There are fighting cases in court. But we spend we should spend more we'd like to we'd have fun with this we've got a secretary in the office that most times Paul this is long but I must tell this who was a Hollander in the early years working for a local hotel and we moved to Knoxville. She's a bookkeeper she came outside could she get a job in Honduras that will probably put out a business every six months you don't want a job with us so I can always get a job at a hotel you know. And the weak labor jobs she's a pain in the mountains. The father was killed in the mountain few. And.
Just a very loud response with a good worker but she gets the word one day from the crank call start a company and you know she's you know I'm going to call all morning. Right here on CNN she loves to answer the phone and she rushes to the phone. You know. I have a couple of kids when they're home they like rush for the phone to buy like sit around they like to get these prank calls. Like. Three o'clock in the morning somebody call me if this is a warning the place is going to be bombed at 3:30 get out of jail. I said would you call me at 3:30 and tell me what happens. Thank you thank you very much. And. Well we all used to call this guy got a call it takes. Somebody called up and says how many more letters he got run around over there. And she said to me you ost. And we were at it. And look at the at the at the good.
Will. For I want but Kaplan to come up here a minute if you will. And I think most of you know Abbott is my associate in university extension. I've known miles for many is more years than I'd like to confess to. And I don't really think that he does I'm so of just you know. Nice quiet fellow from the south who hole runs a little school in the mountains and sometimes people come to him and sometimes he goes to them and he runs some courses now and then. Miles has been doing this since 1932 I guess we met in 34 35 miles. He was drawing it at a time when it was as much as your life was worth. And he was running a school not only a first grade
residential adult education school but the only literally in the entire south the only single place in the south where Negroes and whites could come to a residential school and live events study in the same institution. There was absolutely no other place in the south. Not only in the 30s but the 40s the 50s and for the most part it's still true today in the 60s. And that's an extraordinary accomplishment. This little hillbilly fellow who wanders up in the yard and that's what Miles was he wanders up to New York to the Union Theological Seminary to get the word of the Lord. But instead he ran into rhino rebore all the while speaking with almost as much authority as the Lord also apparently had a greater sense of conscience and this is what infected
infected Miles. When he started hearing that kind of talk he says My God that's what I've lived with all my life my work and job here I'm going home to do this sort of thing. I don't think he was a doing in more than two years was it. And for those 32 years he's been working in the south long before the Supremes Court decision long before Corps long before any of these other efforts of the head had begun. And this is what's that's absolutely extraordinary. On the most you've lived through that period. You don't have any inkling of the accomplishment of what happened today it has an extraordinary tradition. It is starkly in these terms but in terms of the thousands and thousands of people who lived in the south. No and the reason that people in the north don't know about it and perhaps for good reason is that the appeal
wasn't to the north it was the South that he was working in. And Southerners he was influencing and both white and Negro Southerners and it isn't any accident that the leaders in almost every state and every community I'm not talking about the students for the most part but the adult leadership in the south of the integration movement for the most part are graduates of higher than had been there at one time or another including Martin Luther King including parts Windsor for the pardon of Rosa Parks that bears stray head first stray that started the whole business and was started by a woman who had spent the period Hylander and riding in a bus suddenly went cold turkey who decided that she wasn't going to move now. Miles has played a rather interesting and particularly difficult and rather wise role I must confess
I say must confess because. I get so annoyed because he doesn't do himself and his school justice. He has always throughout those thirty two years carefully drawn the line between education and political activity. And this was extraordinarily wise under the circumstances because you simply could not do both at that time or for that matter at this time. Now that doesn't mean that education was going to be valid Blanda not lead to action but that his job was training the people and they were going to go out go out and accomplish the tasks. And in that way it was Hylander more than any other institution that trained the leadership that got the people to go out and get registered. That taught illiterate people to be literate so that they could pass the Voting tests and really laid the underpinnings of the
horrible integration this movement in the south. Now this is a rather broad claim but I honestly don't think it's an exaggerated claim. I don't mean to imply that had it not been for the. The present ferment would not take place. Of course it would it was inevitable. You couldn't keep people as second and third fourth class citizenship for that long a time. But at the same time had it not been for the very real ability of graduates of Highland to learn focus and leadership to that movement. I don't think it could have been nearly as effective as it has been today and the fact of the matter hears that all of the negro organizations and there are many many more than even we're aware of in the south. Whatever their strife whatever the degree of militancy of their thinking or ideology. The interesting thing is that Myles Horton and Highlander is completely trusted by those groups. There's the school they go
Thirty Years of Civil Rights Education in the South / Myles Horton
Producing Organization
KPFK (Radio station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
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Highlander Folk School, founded in 1932, began as an educational resource for adults fighting unemployment and anti-union movements, and quickly became committed to ending segregation. Through a number of rich anecdotes, Myles Horton, one of the founders of the Highlander Folk School, indicates the basic role the school has played in the civil rights movement in the South. Highlander, Horton explains, provided interracial workshops at its home base in Tennessee and throughout the South to develop leaders who would implement similar "Highlander-style" programs in many poverty-stricken communities, training organizers to engage in sit-ins, voter registration drives, community center building, school desegregation, literacy programs, and other direct action campaigns. Horton discusses Highlander's involvement with SNCC, CORE, SCLC, and the NAACP, and mentions its struggles with the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan nearby in Tennessee. Many civil rights leaders trained or taught in Highlander programs, including Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Septima Clark, Ella Baker, Bob Moses, Bernice Robinson, and James Bevel. After Horton's talk, Abbot Kaplan speaks briefly about the importance of Horton and Highlander. Recorded at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Sheats in Beverly Hills by Rome Ronconi. Kaplan and Sheats were instrumental in the development of adult education programs, the director and dean, respectively, of the University Extension program of the University of California.
Event Coverage
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Public Affairs
School integration -- Southern states; Education -- United States; Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tenn.); African Americans--Civil rights--History
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Producing Organization: KPFK (Radio station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
Speaker: Horton, Myles, 1905-1990
Speaker: Kaplan, Abraham Abbot, 1912-1980
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: 11732_D01 (Pacifica Radio Archives)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: PRA_AAPP_BB4702_Thirty_years_of_civil_rights_education (Filename)
Format: audio/vnd.wave
Generation: Master
Duration: 0:51:30
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Chicago: “Thirty Years of Civil Rights Education in the South / Myles Horton,” 1964-03-20, Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 1, 2021,
MLA: “Thirty Years of Civil Rights Education in the South / Myles Horton.” 1964-03-20. Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 1, 2021. <>.
APA: Thirty Years of Civil Rights Education in the South / Myles Horton. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from