On November 22, 2008, nearly 100 Highlander supporters gathered in downtown Knoxville for a house party featuring special guest Robert Ben Garant, great-nephew of Highlander’s founder Myles Horton and the co-creator, writer and star of Comedy Central’s hit show, Reno 911!.

Click above to watch Ben’s talk at the party

At the party, Ben talked about his memories of his great-uncle Myles, and connected these memories with Highlander’s ongoing work for social and economic justice. He noted, for example, that Myles loved gardening and that when he traveled he went to great lengths to bring back seeds for his garden, even seeds that technically should not have been brought into the country.

Later, remembering that the state of Tennessee had closed Highlander briefly during the early 1960s because of its work for civil rights, Ben cited Myles’s comment, “You can padlock a building but you can’t padlock an idea.” And he pointed out that the idea of Highlander

has gone all over the world . . . to places where they didn’t want this idea, where they really didn’t want people standing up for themselves and learning from each other and learning that they weren’t alone.

Pulling these two strands together, Ben concluded that the key to Myles’ work was “spreading seeds,” and that Highlander is one seed that is still growing and spreading.

[Myles’s] life was sneaking seeds into places where maybe they didn’t want those seeds to go, and letting those seeds grow. . . . And it’s wonderful to know that the seed isn’t a museum, it’s still growing. And . . . now it’s involved in things that in 1932 in Monteagle Tennessee they probably hadn’t even heard of, and that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.

We deeply appreciate Ben’s support, the support of the host committee, and everyone who attended the party. It was a great night for Highlander in Knoxville!

To watch a video of Ben’s talk at the party, click the image above, or go here. Additional information about Ben and the party is available here.

One Response

  1. Wow, I had no idea that Ben is the great nephew of the Founder. I have just recently moved from Maryland to Mississippi and have been shocked by the state of things here. I have a couple friends from East Tennessee who were just talking recently about how they felt that nothing is getting better there. I will tell them about Highlander because I don’t think they are aware of it.

    I’m really glad to see that Ben stays involved in the organization. I hope you invite him out again sometime.