• Move When The Spirit Says Move

    The Life and Legacy of Dorothy Foreman Cotton





    Our excerpted short "There's Your Ready Girl" placed 1st 

    in the Documentary - Social Issues category at the 

    New York Women In Film & TV Online Shorts Festival!

  • A Message from the

    Dorothy Cotton Institute

    "We at the Dorothy Cotton Institute are excited to partner with Photosynthesis Productions (PSP), an Ithaca-based film company, to produce a documentary that will be a tribute to the life and ongoing legacy of Dr. Dorothy Foreman Cotton, a civil rights icon of the Southern Freedom Movement.


    Dorothy Cotton served for eight years as Education Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and was the only woman on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Executive Staff. The centerpiece of her leadership was the Citizenship Education Program (CEP), a popular-education intensive that moved thousands of people from a mindset of “victim” to that of fully-engaged “citizen.”


    The CEP equipped grassroots activists throughout the southern United States with a grounding in their constitutional rights and how to use the principles of non-violent direct action. In a brutal context where racial segregation, hatred and the threat of terrorism were daily realities, CEP participants went on to risk their lives to register voters, organize communities, demonstrations, strikes and boycotts, run for office and ultimately overturn Jim Crow laws. The CEP is a model for popular education and movement building that has empowered freedom struggles across the globe.

    This film will focus not only on Dorothy Cotton’s role with the CEP, but will also highlight several other unsung s/heroes of the movement whose names and contributions the public should know. Dorothy Cotton’s work on non-violence, the power of freedom songs and taking action did not end in the ’60s. The film will include interviews with her colleagues and friends, archival footage of her talks and workshops, and the impact of her remarkable life."

  • Reactions:

    "She was a feminist before feminism was cool."


    – Andrew Young

    Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations,

    "When Dorothy Cotton came to Emory for the opening of the SCLC papers, her talk & presence were fierce. That comes through in this film. You see the strategy, the determination, the willingness to outmaneuver & break down the walls of oppression. Vote & know your power & your worth."


    Professor Carol Anderson

    Charles Howard Candler Professor of AfAm Studies @ Emory

    "I think that her legacy, if you try to simplify it, was getting people aware of the rights that they should have." 


    – Dr. Clayborne Carson 

    Director, Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute

    "If there ever was a time when the leadership and vision of Black women was needed, in terms of not only protecting democracy but in shaping the future of democracy, I think the time would be now." 


    – LaTosha Brown

    Co-Founder, Black Voters Matter

    “There would have been no President Barack Obama without the citizenship schools of Dorothy Cotton. Every Black member of the United States Congress owes part of their being there to the studying and the teaching of those citizenship schools that laid the foundation for Black political power and fusion political power between Black folk and white folk and brown folk that have worked to change this country to where it is today.” 


    – Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II

    co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign

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