"In the spring of 1965, hundreds of billboards arose across the American South purporting to show Dr Martin Luther King Jr at a ‘Communist training school’. By tracing the history of that infamous image, this article examines how civil rights activists fought against racist propaganda, and argues that the legacies of the American Left remained vital to the civil rights movement despite Cold War repression. At the centre of this story is the Highlander Folk School, an integrated institution in the hills of Tennessee, at which the photo was taken. Highlander’s democratic approach to education created a space in which Leftist ideas and strategies could coalesce, a space that stood in sharp contrast to both the fantasy of a ‘Communist training school’ and the anti-communist segregationists who propagated that fantasy. Both in the content of its workshops and the manner in which they were organized, Highlander preserved the heritage of the American Left in ways that help to explain how many civil rights activists came to reject Communism and the Red Scare, to embrace civil liberties and economic justice, and to respect local traditions of African American resistance and expansive anti-colonial solidarities."
Nico Slate, "Article: The Radical Civil Rights Movement: The Highlander Folk School and the Legacies of the Left in Cold War America", contributed by Prerna Srigyan, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 2 April 2023, accessed 8 December 2023. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/article-radical-civil-rights-movement-highlander-folk-school-and-legacies-left-cold-war