Highlander Pre-Conference Workshop (separate registration is required, as space is limited)

Wednesday, October 18, 10:00am-4:00pm.

Join Highlander Center, the popular education center in Tennessee that trained the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, for a dive into popular education, organizing, movement history and current challenges and opportunities. Highlander Center has been a pivotal gathering place for labor, civil rights, environmental justice, education, immigrant rights, and youth organizing throughout its 85 year history. Started in 1932, in the depths of the Depression in rural Grundy County, Highlander has focused its work in the Southern and Appalachian United States, supporting leaders and groups to come together, share ideas and strategies at the center and return back to their communities to better organize to change their situation. Join Susan Williams and Esmeralda Baltazar from the Highlander Center Education Team for a participatory workshop exploring Highlander’s history and methodologies. Participants will explore historical movements and share more about current organizing efforts in these challenging times for our education institutions, communities, and society.



Esmeralda Baltazar

Esme first came to Highlander through the Southern Grassroots Economies Project and then Seeds of Fire youth program.  She joined the staff in early April of 2014. She came from her home community of San Antonio, where she worked with Fuerza Unida, a Latina-led organization supporting the organizing of women workers and their families. In Chicago, she-co founded The Crib Collective, a youth-led organization that became a center for artistic expression and cross cultural alliances. She is an accomplished visual artist and holds an MA in Educational Leadership, Politics and Advocacy from New York University. At Highlander, she leads the Seeds of Fire Youth program, supports educational work on cooperative economics, and encourages groups to incorporate cultural organizing in their strategic efforts.



Susan Williams

Susan Williams has worked for over 35 years as a community organizer, a popular educator, a participatory researcher and librarian/archivist in East Tennessee.  She  organized with Save Our Cumberland Mountains and the Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network, and now works on the Education Team at Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee, focusing on a new Economics and Governance curriculum for communities.    She coordinates Highlander’s library, bookstore and archive and is a 2012 graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Information Sciences Masters program.