Haiti, Tennessee

There’s somethinig about being in the mountains that always reminds me of Haiti and this weekend in New Market Tennessee attending the Highlander Research and Education Center’s 75th Anniversary has been no different. What makes this memory so apt is the legacy of this center in the Tennesee hills that has housed legendeary activists such as Rosa Parks, Septima Clark, Myles Horton, Hollis Watkins, and Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, the latter were panelists on this morning’s plenary.

The conviction to social change that has kept Highlander alive and helped bring to life countless other social justice organizations over the last 75 years emanates throughout virtually every inch of this mountainside. Anniversary attendees bring with them memories of experience in such epic quests as the Civil Rights movement, anti-Apartheid struggles, labor-and-work rights crusades, and anti-war campaigns. Their presence embodies the fact that these struggles are far from over and that today’s movements are part of a continuum. The international hue of this weekend also iterates that these crusades are part of a global mission for a more just world, and whether home–or–home base is Mexico, Nicaragua or Haiti making your way to the mountains is not a retreat from the mission at hand, but a trek to strategize, build coalitions, sing songs and find the freedom best exemplified by the sight of children aimlessly scampering.

As the Highlander Maroons convene in New Market this weekend to celebrate 75 years of action it is already clear in the faces of the children roaming around the campus that imagining another 75years of action and resistance is already in the works.

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Ferentz Lafargue