Cultural Organizing

The state of Alabama has one of the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rates in the country. Yet nearly 99% of adults in Panola, AL have received their vaccine. That is thanks to the heroic efforts of Dorothy Oliver, who ran a makeshift Covid vaccine coordination center from the convenience store she runs out of a mobile home.

The Panola Project highlights Dorothy’s efforts to keep her small town safe, and illuminates how an often-overlooked rural Black community comes together in creative ways to survive.

Join Donkeysaddle Projects for their final Freedom Film of the year, to watch The Panola Project on December 4th at 4pm ET/1pm ET. The screening will be followed by a conversation between Dorothy Oliver and film co-director, Rachael DeCruz.

This is a virtual event. Tickets by donation. Get your ticket here:

As a catalyst of change, Highlander Center invites all in community to join us in the practice of our Cultural Organizing methodology. Through a wonderful partnership with Aaron Greenwald and the Big Ears Festival, we were able to practice some popular education and cultural organizing with Damon Locks and The Black Monument Ensemble in early Spring 2022.
Damon Locks, Ben LaMar Gay and Arif Smith were in town to work with Black monument sites in East Tennessee to inform their performance at the Big Ears Festival, including Highlander Center, the Children’s Defense Fund’s Alex Haley Farm, The Bottom, Knoxville College and The Beck Cultural Exchange Center.
From Highlander Cultural Organizer Je Naé Taylor: “We started the week off with a workshop at The Bottom exploring sounds and the ole so flawed english language. When they arrived on the Hill mid-morning, we started with a tour of the land led by our Radical Hospitality and Building and Grounds crews with Ashby from the Septima Clark Learning Center. Later, we had a very delicious meal made by Chef Chris and really spent the afternoon digging deep into two questions: ‘What is the recipe for culture in this time?’ and ‘How have you already been doing cultural organizing in your life?
On the Hill, Locks composed a poem that he opened with at Big Ears. New York Times writer Marcus J Moore wrote, “… Armed with a new perspective, he dissected the juxtaposition of distance and proximity.” You can find the full article about the performance and the poem here.

The Recipe for Culture video highlights the amazing work supported by Cultural Organizer Je Naé in 2020, including biweekly virtual Spiritual Soirees and Happy Hours centering healing, collective joy and resilience during the pandemic; the Culture Cohort supporting five culture workers in the South, culminating in the 48-hour virtual Cultural Bazaar; Parties at the Polls to celebrate voter engagement and voting rights; and much more.