Civil rights leaders such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King attended workshops organized near this marker by Highlander Folk School founder Myles Horton during the 1950s. The school began as a way to explore and understand the problems facing resident of Appalachian and focussed on labor issues from its founding in 1932 until the end of World War II. After the war, Horton and other leaders of the school began focussing on issues such as school integration, hoping to prepare communities throughout the region for the transition to integration in hopes of preventing the state from cutting funding for the already beleaguered local schools. Over time, this focus led to workshops with white and black leaders and Highlander became one of the most historically significant sites of interracial understanding and cooperation during the early years of the civil rights movement.
In 1960, the state of Tennessee ordered the closure of the Highlander School in response to their support of interracial workshops and integration.