Highlander Center Annual Report for the years 2018-2020. Your support through these trying times has helped to make it all possible and is much appreciated.
New Market, Tenn. (April 3, 2021) – The Highlander Research and Education Center is excited to share our 2019-20 Annual Report, with the deepest appreciation for the outpouring of support we have received and all that your support has made possible. The report highlights Highlander’s work, donors, and financial position over our last two fiscal years (October 1, 2018-September 30, 2019 and October 1, 2019-September 30, 2020).
Co-Executive Director Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson has been telling leaders in philanthropy: “Fund us like you want us to win.” More than 7,000 individual supporters have helped do just that. Even while there is a long road ahead for philanthropy’s investments to fully meet the needs of transformative social change work like ours, you have supported us this last two years with vital gifts, large and small, that have helped us enter a rebuilding phase with confidence, stabilize and attend to our internal operations, and think boldly and imaginatively about how to live into our mission to be a catalyst for social movements.
As you know, we experienced a devastating fire in March 2019. While we are most grateful that no one was physically injured, our main office building was a total loss, including most of our staff’s paper and digital notes, files, documents, and our server. Rebuilding and reacquisition of those materials has been a monumental effort and one that continues. In the wake of the fire, we advanced our mission without pause, and engaged in the work of healing while assessing the meaning and impact of the attack to inform movement strategies and protect our people.
We were also enveloped in a community of care, with friends and movement family from across the globe reaching out to be physically present with us, to offer manual labor in the rebuilding, to provide comfort and show solidarity, and to support and sustain our work with financial gifts. In addition to what was lost, we were overwhelmed with love and support.
As the one-year anniversary of the fire approached, the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, disrupting lives and livelihoods, bringing more loss and economic struggles to people everywhere. As we write this, more than 550,000 lives have been lost in the U.S. alone. This public health crisis has disproportionately impacted our communities, with Black, Brown, and Indigenous people and so many on the margins dying at disproportionate rates, workers on the frontlines left unprotected and exposed, and Southern states seeing the rampant spread of the virus under right-wing leadership’s refusal to enforce public health mandates and measures. Still, because of dedicated supporters like you, Highlander’s work continued on-line and on-site.
As the list of lives lost to the coronavirus and governmental inaction grew unabated in 2020, state violence and white supremacist violence against Black people and Black communities continued. We lost Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd and 161 more Black siblings to police violence in the just the first eight months of last year.
People rose up. Years of Black-led, grassroots organizing culminated in 2020’s uprisings to defend Black lives and defund the police over the summer, bolstering a movement that is transforming our society and the material conditions of people’s lives toward justice and liberation.
Over these unprecedented two years, Highlander received extraordinary support in solidarity with our life-changing work to support and accompany grassroots movements and leaders in the U.S. South and Appalachia. We are seeing the fruits of decades of grassroots organizing in our region and beyond, with massive shifts in power and democratic participation. And we have seen the inevitable backlash that comes when movement work threatens white supremacy and dominance, from the fire at Highlander to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and countless acts of violence in between.
As we prepare to celebrate our 90th anniversary next year, we are looking with a keen eye toward the next 10 years leading up to Highlander’s 100th year, planning expansively to continue bringing transformative justice to our region and our people while exceeding all expectations of what is possible for our lives and communities. We honor your investment in this work and our organization with a commitment to stewardship that will pull us all through these multiple moments of crisis. We are as committed as ever to being a gathering place and catalyst in Appalachia and the South where all our people and communities are thriving with radical power and in communal care.
ABOUT: Highlander Research and Education Center was established in 1932 as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South. It is located at; 1959 Highlander Way in New Market, TN 37820. To contact by phone 865-933-3443; email, firstname.lastname@example.org; and for more information visit the website at www.highlandercenter.org
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