American poet, labor organizer, educator
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Don West 's Degrees
- Bachelors English University of California, Berkeley
- Masters English University of California, Berkeley
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Donald Lee West was an American writer, poet, educator, trade union organizer, civil-rights activist and a co-founder of the Highlander Folk School. Early life and career West was born in Devil's Hollow, Gilmer County, Georgia, the child of North Georgia sharecroppers. In high school he led a protest against an on-campus showing of the film The Birth of a Nation and was eventually expelled for other conflicts. He was also expelled from Lincoln Memorial University, in Harrogate, Tennessee, for leading another protest against the paternalism of the campus, though he eventually returned and graduated in 1929. He went on to study under Alva Taylor and Willard Uphaus at the Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville and was influenced by the Social Gospel movement. While a student, he became a Socialist and participated in labor strikes in textile factories and coal mines. Like his eventual collaborator Myles Horton, he travelled to Denmark to tour the Danish folk schools. These were schools that promoted adult education and community engagement. Upon their return, Horton and West co-founded the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. West stayed there only a year, before leaving to found his own Southern Folk School and Libraries in Kennesaw, Georgia.
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