was a leader in the 1960s African-American Civil Rights Movement and a member of the inner-circle of one of its main organizations, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was the highest ranking woman in SCLC during most of the 1960s.
Here are a few other things to know about civil rights activist Dorothy Cotton:
1. Born Dorothy Lee Foreman in Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1930 at the beginning of the Great Depression. Her mother died when she was three years old, leaving her and her three sisters to be raised by their father, Claude Foreman, a tobacco factory worker with only a third grade education
2. Attended Shaw University where she studied English and worked two part-time jobs, one in the school cafeteria and the other cleaning the teacher’s dormitory to help with tuition.
3. Served as the Southeastern Regional Director of ACTION, the Federal Government’s agency for volunteer programs from 1978 to 1981.
4. Powerful motivator speaker, teacher and workshop facilitator, known for using the “Songs of the Movement” to help her tell the story of America’s struggle for civil rights.
5. Received for her public work, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the University of New England in 1982 at which time she gave the commencement address.
6. 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.
7. Pursued and earned a master’s degree in Speech Therapy from Boston University in 1960. It was in Petersburg that Cotton, got involved in a local church led by Wyatt T. Walker. It was there that her Civil Rights activism would begin.
8. Helped James Bevel organize the students during the 1963 Birmingham Movement and its Children
’s Crusade, and conducted citizenship classes throughout the South during the era.