And legendary civil rights leader Dorothy Cotton has died, just one day after her 88th birthday. In the 1960s, Cotton became a close aide to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and served as director of the Citizenship Education Program at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. While she participated in many civil rights marches, including several that were menaced by Ku Klux Klansmen or racist police, Cotton often said that her most important contribution was registering new voters and educating people about their citizenship rights and black history. This is Dorothy Cotton, speaking at New York City’s Riverside Church in 2008.
Dorothy Cotton: “I was really getting very concerned about people remembering Dr. King only in the context of a march. People don’t even know we had a training program, the Citizenship Education Program. Andy Young, who actually was the administrator—and we got the money, and it was funneled through his congregational church and ought to—to keep this training program going, that was actually started at the Highlander Folk School. But that story needs to be out there, so folk don’t think we just had a march. Even on campuses, students used to say, 'When are you going to have another march? When are you going to have a march?' Well, of course, I tell them now, 'Well, do we need a march? Well, if we're going to march, you’ll have to do it. My legs hurt now. I just had a hip replacement.’”