Dorothy Cotton is 2010 National Freedom Award Recipient given by the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
She once said on national television; “I’m tired of people saying, “And now we present her, who marched with Martin Luther King.” Well, a lot of folk flew down there one weekend and marched, but I worked.”
From 1960 to 1968, Dr. Dorothy Cotton was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In that capacity, she worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders, directing the Citizenship Education Program (CEP). As the Education Director she was considered one of the highest ranking women with the SCLC.
On April 4, 1968 she was at the Lorraine Motel in room 307 next door to Dr. Kings’ room, the day of his assassination.
Later, she served as the Vice President for Field Operations for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia where she was a leader and senior trainer for the Center in areas nonviolence and empowerment for leadership.
Under the Carter Administration, she served as the Southeastern Regional Director of ACTION, the Federal Government’s agency for volunteer programs from 1978 to 1981.
From 1982 to May 1991, she was the Director of Student Activities at Cornell University.
A powerful motivating speaker, teacher and workshop facilitator, Dr. Cotton often uses the “Songs of the Movement” to help her tell the story of America’s struggle for civil rights.
She accompanied Dr. King when he received the Nobel Prize for Peace in Norway. Since that time she has traveled extensively throughout the world, including visits to the former Soviet Union, The People’s Republic of China, Switzerland, Africa, Vietnam, and Europe while participating in international workshops and discussions on a broad range of current social and humanitarian issues.
Dr. Cotton has designed and conducted training programs for corporations, schools, universities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations working with well over 100,000 participants. She has delivered commencement speeches and has addressed students at hundreds of colleges and universities including The University of New England and Spelman College (both of which gave her an Honorary Doctorate degree for her public work), Stanford University, The Albuquerque Academy, Brown University, City College of New Jersey and many more.
Listen to Dr. Dorothy Cotton interview on WHCU’s All Things Equal
Dr. Dorothy Cotton–Nov. 23, 2010
Civil rights activist Dorothy Cotton discusses her work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and where we are today as a nation when it comes to racial issues.