WENY News - Civil Rights Icon Dorothy Cotton Dies at 88

Civil Rights Icon Dorothy Cotton Dies at 88

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ITHACA, N.Y. (WENY) – Civil Rights Icon, Dorothy Cotton, has died at 88 in her Ithaca home, according to The Ithaca Journal.

Cotton was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement and a member of the inner-circle of one of its main organizations, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), as their educational director.

She was arguably the highest ranked female member of the organization.

Cotton was born as Dorothy Lee Foreman in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Growing up in the Great Depression, she and her three sisters were raised by their father after their mother died when Cotton was three-years-old.

Her work in civil rights began while she was attending Virginia State University. She got involved with a local church led by Wyatt Walker, the regional head for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Walker asked Cotton if she would be willing to help the organizing and training of children for picketing campaign.

Not long after she got involved, Martin Luther King Jr. was invited to the church to speak. Later on, King asked Walker if he would move to Atlanta to help King form the SCLC and Walker said he would go, only if he could bring two of his closest associates, Jim Wood and Dorothy Cotton.

Cotton stayed in Atlanta for 23 years, making immense contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.

King recruited her to help with various projects and later, she founded the Citizen Education Program to help African-Americans register to vote.

Cotton continued her work at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for three years after the assassination of King in 1968.

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