Rosa Parks and the Highlander Folk School

From this morning’s Washington Post:

Rosa Parks seated in the bus (cc) kriddick1908

Rosa Parks seated in the bus (cc) kriddick1908

Yandura and Lewis had already begun charting their own more aggressive course — connecting with activists outside Washington to organize a training conference for later that month at the Highlander Research and Education Center, a social action institute in the mountains of east Tennessee where Rosa Parks learned civil disobedience tactics.

President Obama bristles when he is the target of activist tactics he once used by Peter Wallsten (Washington Post Sunday, June 10 2012, 12:07 AM)

Enough to spike an interest in an internet search for the connection between Rosa Parks and Highlander. Wikipedia’s entry on Highlander Research and Education Center:

Highlander has provided training and education for the labor movement in Appalachia and throughout the Southern United States. During the 1950s, it played a critical role in the American Civil Rights Movement. It trained civil rights leader Rosa Parks prior to her historic role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, as well as providing training for many other movement activists including the members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Septima Clark, Anne Braden, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Bevel, Rosa Parks, Hollis Watkins, Bernard Lafayette, Ralph Abernathy and John Lewis in the mid- and-late 1950s. Backlash against the school’s involvement with the Civil Rights Movement led to the school’s closure by the state of Tennessee in 1961. It reorganized and moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where it reopened, later becoming the Highlander Research and Education Center.

Highlander Research and Education Center, Wikipedia, accessed on June 10, 2012.

The role of training centers in creating informal networks of its students and alumni, sometimes with historical impact, is often unreported or understated. Alumni networks are a critical part of business schools, but otherwise no mention or serious consideration anywhere else.

(Side Note: Foundations and archives that own historical photo collections should make them available to the world under the creative commons license. Here is a great photo of young Rosa Parks at Highlander Folk School, but it is not on the Wikipedia page because you need Highlander’s permission to use the image!)

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