Highlander serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the U.S. South. Through popular education, participatory research, and cultural work, we help to create spaces — at Highlander and in local communities — where people gain knowledge, hope and courage, expanding their ideas of what is possible.

Highlander is a place where leaders, networks, and movement strands come together to interact, build friendships, craft joint strategy and develop the tools and mechanisms needed to advance a multi-racial, inter-generational movement for social and economic justice in our region. Highlander is also a source of political continuity, across both geography and history, linking current movement efforts to movements across the globe and to the history of movements across multiple generations. Highlander’s work – convening workshops; scouting for emerging leadership and political action; ‘relationship-building’; connecting across difference; documentation; cultural engagement – marks, shapes and forms the trajectory of political action by helping to create a common understanding of the work to be done by supporting and connecting actual and potential doers of that work.

Martin Luther King, Pete Seeger, Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy, and Charis Horton at Highlander Institute, 1957