White Power Symbol Found at Historic Social Justice Center Destroyed by Fire, Once Hosted MMLK Jr. & Rosa Parks

Officials found a white power symbol at the site of a social justice center in Tennessee, which was destroyed by fire on March 29, as the culprits are still being sought.


No one was injured in the blaze, but the main office was completely destroyed. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s office is working with state bomb and arson agents to determine the cause of the fire.

“We are investigating a symbol that was painted in the parking area of the office to see if it has any affiliation to any individual or group,” the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Hosted several famed civil rights leaders

The Highlander Research and Education Center, in Highlander, Tennessee, which is about 30 minutes east of Knoxville, once hosted famed civil rights leaders and social activists, which included: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy and Peter Seeger, who all attended training events there.

Decades worth of historical documents, speeches and memorabilia were lost in the blaze, said the Highlander Center in a Facebook Post.

Miles Horton founded the Highlander Folk School in 1932, and since then, the center had provided organizing efforts and training for emerging social justice movements in the South.

No suspects, details of symbols not released

Officials have not described the details of the white power symbols found at the site, but representatives of the Highland Center said it was spray-painted on the parking lot connected to the main office.

“While we don’t know the names of the culprits, we know that the white power movement has been increasing and consolidating power across the South, across this nation, and globally,” Highlander center said in a statement. “Since 2016, the white power movement has become more visible, and we’ve seen that manifest in various ways, both subtle and overt.”

“Now is the time to be vigilant. To love each other and support each other and to keep each other safe in turbulent times,” the Highlander Center wrote in a statement. “Now is not the time to dismiss how scary things are, which makes it even more important to have concrete assessments of concrete conditions, and sophisticated strategies to build a new world.”