PLEASE NOTE: The book is currently being researched, and I am looking for stories from personal acquaintances of May Justus, her life and times. Please use the CONTACT US button below.
I first became interested in May Justus when I moved to Monteagle, Tennessee in 2016. The public library there is named for her and, as I began to ask around, I found out that she was a much-beloved teacher and a very successful writer of children's books.
Many times, I passed the historical marker on the road between Monteagle and Tracy City that noted the presence, at one time, of the Highlander Folk School. May Justus was the secretary/treasurer of the school for several years and lived nearby. There, she was acquainted with some of the leading lights of the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Septima Clark, Ralph Abernathy, and others.
Miss Justus, her companion Vera McCampbell, Myles Horton, and their colleagues bravely faced resistance from some locals and from the State of Tennessee. The State mounted a successful attempt to close down the Highlander Folk School that went all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court; the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the case. Still, May Justus continued to write and to teach children at home. She wrote dozens of children's books, wrote songs, and recorded music.
The Highlander school continues its work today as the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee.
This book will, I hope, bring May Justus and her work forward for yet another generation.
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