2010 Recipient of the National Freedom Award
Dorothy Cotton, was honored with a Freedom Award presented by the National Civil Rights Museum in 2010.
Dr. Cotton is the former director for the Southern Christian Leader Conference's Citizens Education Project. Ms. Cotton was at the front lines in the fight for civil rights. In "If Your Back's Not Bent" she shares an up-close and personal account of those turbulent times, as no one else can.
Born into poverty in North Carolina, she survived deprivation and racism by seeking solace in books and spirituality, worked her way through college, earned a master’s degree, and married. But something was missing. She found it through her work with the Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., then a charismatic young preacher. She became a member the his Executive Committee for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, training and organizing men and women across the South to participate in nonviolent demonstrations, including the fateful 1963 Birmingham campaign.
After Dr. King's death, she continued her work as an activist, serving as vice president of field operations for the King Center for Nonviolent Change. Today she speaks around the world, from Africa to China, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the BBC, PBS's American Experience, and many more. If Your Back's Not Bent is the first published account of how her work and the CEP were fundamental to the success of the Civil Rights Movement.
Past recipients of this presigious award have included: Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Marian Wright Edelman, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Barbara Jordan, President Nelson Mandela, Congressman John Lewis, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Andrew Young and His Holiness The Dalai Lama.