Myles Horton- Risk Taking
Myles Horton- Risk Taking
Myles Horton was born in 1905, in Tennessee. His parents were both School teachers long before he was born but were dismissed since they didn’t have the minimum requirements for being a teacher when the requirements were increased to include a one-year High school education and, unfortunately, none of them had. This forced the parents to take menial jobs to support their family.
After school Horton resolved to create a school for students and teachers. This brought together white and African citizens who lived and worked together centrally to the norm in the current society that was largely segregated. Myles Horton contributed largely to progressive social action in the 1930’s. He contributed a lot to social change and education in Highlander Folk School which later became Highlander Research action center in the new market, TN.
Highlander supported civil rights movements while Myles Horton supported civil and labor activities. He believed that by use of education, one can build leadership that can bring people together and reason on a particular issue. By so doing, Myles Horton used collective action. Horton made many students and teachers realize their dreams, and this followed the likes of Martin Luther King Junior, Fanny Luo Hamer, among others. The school was a meeting point for civil rights activists, antipoverty workers, labor organizers and others gathered there to develop ideas and solutions formulation.
Myles Horton promoted social change by empowering people both poor and rich to establish education to get ideas and promote social change. This is also demonstrated in his words: “my first feeling about the wage system was not justifiable for one to work a lot for a little income and yet others worked little and got a lot.”
During Horton’s life, he took many risks for the ideas he embraced as he stood up to those who had the financing and power to oppress Southerners at the bottom of the socio-economic structure. As he, and others who worked with him, supported efforts to create change, Horton came under fire from many fronts, particularly those who were convinced, for example, that communists were fueling union efforts.
Horton habitually challenged those around him to respect human dignity and to demand their rights through solidarity with one another. Traditionally, labor has used such beliefs and tactics, but during Horton’s years of imagining and founding Highlander, the social, political, and economic status of the United States was very different than it is now.
Horton always denied that he was a Communist although he was open to allowing members of the Party to participate in the school. Highlander had become the primary education center for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). During the climax of the Cold War and the Red Scare, when union organizations were prohibiting communists from being officers, Horton was asked to put a statement in the school charter against communists. He, refused, as it was not his position to exclude anyone from taking part in whatever positions they wished.
All actions taken by Myles Horton to promote social change involved risk taking. His actions such as involvement in political movements, opening new schools and inspiring both students and teachers were all aimed at building leadership. Myles Horton was keen on the importance of love, democracy, dialogue, and believed that people had the ability to solve their problems. His contributions offer a way forward for today’s society to deal with its struggles for social and economic justice.
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