People of the Cumberland (1937 Educational Film)

Less than 21 minutes: My interpretation: Tennessee white people got played by Communists during the Great Depression. Then, in the 1950s the Communists abandoned them and took up black causes.

This film is moving. It totally demolishes the idea that whites ever had any privilege other than to work themselves to death and then die.

The poor mountain people you see could be my immediate ancestors. My people lived exactly as shown in the film but maybe a hundred miles south of there in the Georgia mountains.

Published on Jul 25, 2017

“People of the Cumberland” demonstrates how education and the labor movement can transform an impoverished mining region and bring hope to its people. Celebrates the work of the Highlander Folk School, a progressive adult education center founded in 1932 in the mountain community of Monteagle, Tennessee. Made by activist filmmakers, the movie ends with a call for a “new kind of America.”.

USA Today published an article on the Highlander Folk School in 2013. It was shut down by Tennessee in 1962. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks had learned their agitation techniques at the school in the 1950s.

2 thoughts on “People of the Cumberland (1937 Educational Film)

  1. Yup! I agree with your review, first the mining companies took them away from their land and sent them down the mines to be exploited then when the coal dried up the mines moved on and the people were dumped. Having lost touch with the earth and feeling used and abandoned they gave up. Along comes the do gooder but is really a communist and sells them the party line and if you do as we tell you then you’ll be fine. As the times changed the communists also left and moved on to their next target group.

    • I could be sympathetic to the Highlander School except for the way the damn Commies abandoned the whites for the blacks in the 50s. Commies are opportunists, with no real interest in anything or anybody except gaining power. Some of my relatives were living just like the whites in the film. This was in the 60s. I met them myself. They’re all dead now, but they lived a hand to mouth existence. They sure loved the land, the sky, the earth, growing things, the wildlife, dogs, and so forth. I take after them.

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