As Highlander works to nurture the skills and capacity of marginalized communities, build on the momentum of the elections, and maximixe our regional resources and efforts, we are fortifying current issue campaigns happening in the South with the strategic inclusion of art and culture. A new pilot project called the Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Residency Project will match artists and communities in residency work to help local organizers develop cultural tools to help take a current campaign to another level.

As the first stage of the Zilphia Horton Project, we are currently accepting applications for two communities/organizations interested in partnering with us to host a three-week cultural organizing residency in fall/winter 2009. Communities in Appalachia and the Southern United States are eligible to participate.

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

The project will begin with an orientation workshop for the artists and community representatives at Highlander in September and close with an evaluation workshop at Highlander in December.

To apply to the Zilphia Horton Cultural Organizing Residency Project, download the application form (PDF, 8kb) and send it to Susan Williams, Highlander Center, 1959 Highlander Way, New Market, TN 37820. Fax: 865-933-3424, email swilliams (at)

For more information about the program, contact

Zilphia Horton singing on a picket line in the 1940s
Zilphia Horton singing on a picket line in the 1940s.

The Zilphia Horton Community Cultural Project is named for Zilphia Horton, one of Highlander’s first staff members, who brought an understanding of the connection between culture and organizing that has continued throughout Highlander’s history. Zilphia taught song-leading, helped organizing workers to write labor dramas, and helped to share the song “I Will Overcome” after learning it from striking tobacco workers in Charleston, South Carolina. The Zilphia Horton Project continues Zilphia Horton’s legacy by bringing together artists and grassroots activists to address and develop solutions for the pressing social and economic issues facing the region.

The Zilphia Horton Project is funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation.