PULLMAN, Wash. — Dorothy Cotton, a colleague of the Rev. Martin Luther
King, Jr., will deliver the keynote address Jan. 18 during Washington State
University’s annual program celebrating the life of the late civil rights leader.
The address is part of a program beginning at 7 p.m. in the Beasley Performing
Arts Coliseum. It is free and open to the public. The program theme is “Soaring
Cotton will join students, faculty, staff and community members in the
university’s traditional campus Unity March. Marchers will gather in front of
WSU’s Holland Library at 5:45 p.m. Beginning at 6 p.m., they will walk down
Terrell Mall, take a left on Stadium Way and stop at the fire pit at Flag Lane for
a rally before continuing on to the Coliseum. Program officials encourage
marchers to make signs and banners supporting and promoting peace, social
justice and equality to carry during the march.
From 1960-72, Cotton was education director of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, of which King was president. With the SCLC, she
marched with King and worked with leaders of the Civil Rights movement.
King was assassinated April 4, 1968.
Later, she directed the Citizenship Education Program, an effort to empower
disenfranchised citizens and develop local leadership in the South through
social change using nonviolent means. She also was a vice president for the
Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change in Atlanta.
During President Jimmy Carter’s administration, Cotton served as southeastern
regional director of ACTION, the federal government volunteer programs
agency, and as Cornell University’s student activities director from 1982-91.
She now resides in Ithaca, N.Y.
In previous addresses, Cotton has said that some of today’s problems are
different from those which existed during the Civil Rights movement. There are
no longer “whites only” signs, she says. But the problems are there. She
admonishes her audiences to look for what does not work in our society, and
to empower audience members to help make it work.
The 13th annual WSU celebration comes on the day after the national, state
and WSU “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” holiday. King’s birthday is Jan. 15.