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Sun, 07.09.1905

Myles Horton, Socialist born

Myles Horton born

*Myles Horton was born on this date in 1905.  He was a white-American educator, socialist, and administrator. 

Myles Falls Horton was born in 1905 in Savannah, Tennessee to a poor family. He had two brothers, Daniel and Demas, and one sister, Elsie Pearl. He grew up near Savannah, his parents were Elsie Falls Horton and Perry Horton; they were former schoolteachers and Presbyterians. His father was a Workers’ Alliance member and his mother served as a respected and socially active community member. Before the birth of their children, Elsie and Perry Horton worked as educators.

When standards for being an educator changed (they now required at least one year of high school), they both lost their jobs because neither of them had the required education. After that, they worked several odd jobs, one of which was working in factories as sharecroppers. Myles’ parents were peace-loving people who tried to raise their kids as respectful, affectionate and devoted people. They grew up in poverty, but never thought of themselves as lower class. Elsie Falls Horton helped to organize classes for less fortunate people and tried to have them become more educated people of the community. 

Horton left home at the young age of fifteen to attend high school and supported himself through working in a sawmill and then a box factory. During this time, Horton experienced union organization by holding jobs at a sawmill and as a packer at factories. As a teenager, he demonstrated his activism by holding a strike for higher wages at the tomato factory. Horton attended Cumberland College in Tennessee in 1924 and continued his work with local unions. He attended many colleges, including Cumberland University, graduating in 1928; the University of Chicago. After college, Horton went to work as a state Student YMCA secretary. 

In 1929, Horton became familiar with social gospel philosophy while studying in New York City at the Union Theological Seminary. He wanted to find a way in which the social condition could be challenged and changed, and education became his nonviolent instrument. At the University of Chicago, Horton learned about the Danish folk high schools. Inspired after his visit to these schools, Horton helped established his own education center, Highlander Folk School, in Monteagle, Tennessee in 1932. 

He later married Zilphia Mae Johnson in 1935. Zilphia Horton was a constant collaborator with Horton until her death in 1956. Zilphia and Myles Horton had two children. In 1962, Horton married Aimee Isgrig.  co-founder of the Highlander Folk School, famous for its role in the American Civil Rights Movement.  Horton taught and heavily influenced many of the era's leaders. They included Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa ParksJohn LewisJames BevelBernard LafayetteRalph Abernathy, John B. Thompson, and many others.  On January 19, 1990, Myles Horton died at the age of 84. 

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