In the September 4th issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Pablo Eisenberg praises Highlander for its long history of cutting-edge work for social justice, and issues a ringing call for donors and foundations to support Highlander’s work.

Eisenberg, long-time director of the Center for Community Change, is now a senior fellow at the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute.

How One Charity Has Reshaped America

Born in the crucible of poverty, racial discrimination, and worker injustice in the mountains of Tennessee, the Highlander Research and Education Center has stood as a beacon for democratic change for more than 75 years.

Neither its story nor its formidable accomplishments are widely known, even by many people who have been involved in social- and economic-justice issues.

It is a tale of the common man, common sense, and uncommon courage. While its leadership has been extraordinary, it has been largely peopled by ordinary men and women who came together across racial, class, and cultural lines to transform America into a just society. . . .

The Highlander Center is one of the great grass-roots organizations of our time, an institution that has been at the heart of many of the social movements of the past 75 years. Its vision remains untarnished, and its accomplishments are unmatched by all but perhaps a few nonprofit organizations in the country. . . .

Understandably, Highlander has made many enemies over the years. But it is inexcusable that today it is largely ignored by its friends and allies among foundations and progressive individual donors.

Where are the progressive individuals who give thousands or even hundreds of millions of dollars to arts institutions? Why won’t they support an organization that has been in the trenches fighting their battles for social change?

Where are all those foundations that support social- and economic-justice groups and say they want all of their grants to make a difference?

Highlander needs a relatively small amount. Will donors have the intelligence and decency to respond to this appeal?

You can read the article at (a subscription to the Chronicle is required).

2 Responses

  1. Hi–

    Saw this great article in the Chronicle and immediately thought Highlander should use it in your next fundraising appeal — can you get a reprint and send it out with the next annual appeal letter? It is so powerful and compelling, and I think it needs to be widely shared…

    Kari Elsila (former Highlander interin in the 1990s, and Highlander supporter).