Civil Rights Leader and activist, Dorothy Cotton passed away peacefully at a retirement home in Ithaca, New York this past Sunday.

Cotton was 88-years old. Cotton was one of the top aides to civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She played a major role in organizing the 1963 civil rights marches in Birmingham, Alabama and was one of the few women that had a leadership position at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She was also the Director of Student Activities at Cornell University from 1982 to 1991.

Dorothy served as an educational director for eight years, starting in 1960. She encouraged the citizen’s education program in which she encouraged blacks to exercise their right to vote.

In addition to the many hats Cotton wore, she also pushed for desegregation in the south.

Cotton was a native of North Carolina and graduated from Virginia State University.

When describing Dorothy Cotton, the current SCLC President, Charles Steele said that Dorothy

“was one of the few that was in the inner circle, which actually made her stand out. And she made a lot of decisions that influenced the Civil Rights Movement throughout America.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice King took it to Twitter to remember the activist, sharing


Featured Image: Dorothy Cotton Institute