The innocuous sounding Highlander Research and Education Center located in Jefferson County, Tennessee, is dedicated to creating radical activists that will change the social, economic and political order of the South. Beginning in 2007, the Center provided critical training to leaders and members from the TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), which is now using that training to try and convince Governor Haslam to veto the anti-sanctuary city bill passed by the Tennessee General Assembly.
Under the guise of championing “social justice,” Highlander provided Justice School for TIRRC‘s leaders and members beginning in 2007, with “sessions combin[ing] nuts-and-bolts training on organizing and leadership skills with broader discussions of social, political, and economic issues related to immigration and the immigrant rights movement.”
The following year, TIRRC was named “Advocacy Affiliate of the Year” by the National Council of La Raza.
TIRRC lists the Highlander Center among its coalition members.
The formerly named Highlander Folk School was co-founded in 1932, by Tennessee socialists and anti-capitalists Myles Horton and Don West who modeled the school after socialist training centers they had visited in Denmark. The school was established in Monteagle, Tennessee but was shut down by the state for alleged violations of it’s charter. The school was reincorporated, renamed the Highlander Research and Education Center, and moved to Knoxville. In 1971 the Center made one last move to New Market, Tennessee where it is located today.
Staying true to the socialist model, the Highlander Center in 1985, began offering Children’s Justice Camp for the 7 -12 year olds to help them “develop a passion for social justice.”
Like Adolf Hitler said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”
Highlander’s co-founder Don West, a former Vanderbilt student, may well have been the connective tissue that helped connect the university to Highlander.
In 2008, Highlander training for Nashville college students and faculty was organized by Vanderbilt’s Office of Active Citizenship – “[t]he rolling seminar offered programs such as ‘More Radical Than Communism’ and on ‘Becoming a Change Agent,’ which was co-led by Vanderbilt sociology professor Dan Cornfield.”
Cornfield and his wife Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the TN-ACLU who also serves on TIRRC’s Advisory Board, have been long-time supporters of the Highlander Center.
Having received almost $800,000 in George Soros funding, TIRRC has matured into a wealthy organization that receives support from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and other left leaning institutions that willingly accept that TIRRC’s advocacy includes shielding both the run-of-the-mill illegal alien as well as criminal illegal aliens from deportation under any circumstances.
Remembering the early lessons taught by the Highlander Center, TIRRC relies on community organizing and leadership development as the “core strategies” to shift political power through civic engagement. With projected revenue of over $1 million in 2017, TIRRC was able to hire a Policy Coordinator and a Training Coordinator.
TIRRC has launched an aggressive campaign targeting Governor Haslam begging him to veto the anti-sanctuary city bill once it reaches his desk.