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Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Project


Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Project Goes to Dallas!

  Click here to apply for the Dallas Intensive!

Highlander continues to use art and culture to empower marginalized communities across the South and Appalachia with the Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Project. The endeavor is named for Zilphia Horton, a musician, organizer, and wife of Highlander’s founder Myles Horton. It was Zilphia who showed Myles the power of culture to unite, inspire, and organize people for social movements, a legacy Highlander proudly carries on in her honor. Highlander is now accepting applications for the next phase of the project: the 2014 Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Intensive. Using the formula of the SNCC Leadership Academy, the Institute will bring 20 artists and cultural workers to Paul Quinn College to help them better understand organizing.
We are looking primarily for self-identified young adult artists (18 to 35), based in the U.S. South or from the Global South, who are interested in learning about the cultural organizing process and are ready to transform into cultural workers using their art in the pursuit of justice. We encourage community-based artists and members of arts collectives to apply as well.

The Intensive will take place from Friday, April 25th until Sunday, April 27th, 2014 with 20 participants. The faculty will be comprised of community organizers and the Highlander Education Team, with units of study covering Highlander’s history and methodology, Cultural Work and Cultural Organizing, Organizing 101, Nonviolence, and more.

For any more info contact Joe Tolbert at or call at 865-933-3443


Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Project

Highlander Research and Education Center is an 81-year old organization founded by Myles Horton and others to address the needs of working class and Appalachian people. The purpose of Highlander has expanded its mission to include addressing multiple issues, including the needs of working class people, people of color, LGBTQ- identified people, and other marginalized populations. Highlander primarily serves as a workshop, education, and resource center for organizing in the U.S. South, as well as nationally and globally. The four core methodologies under which Highlander operates include popular education, participatory research, multilingual capacity building, and cultural organizing. Specifically, Highlander defines cultural organizing as the strategic use of art and culture to promote progressive policies with marginalized communities.

Cultural Organizing

Cultural Organizing at Highlander is both a core methodology and a set of programs. One such cultural program is the Zilphia Johnson Horton Cultural Organizing Project, named after Zilphia Horton (née Johnson). Zilphia, the wife of Myles Horton, was an organizer who was responsible for stressing to Highlander’s founder Myles Horton the importance of bringing in art and culture when organizing people for social movement.


The goals of the Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Residency Project and partnerships include the following:

  • Help organizations expand the role of art and culture in their organizing and advocacy efforts
  • Enrich the work of cultural workers, artists and/or cultural organizers involved by providing a strategic opportunity to engage community issues and to work with and learn from grassroots organizations.
  • Inspire people to develop cultural tools that can help bring more interest and energy to issue campaigns. This could be song, video, performances, paintings or other works of art that draw on local cultures and address community issues and concerns.