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Move When the Spirit Says Move

A Documentary to Carry Forward the Legacy of Dorothy Foreman Cotton

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 a 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 nonviolent 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 & boycotts, run for office, and ultimately overturn Jim Crow laws. The CEP is a model for popular education & movement building that has empowered freedom struggles across the globe.


The 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 & contributions the public should know. Dorothy Cotton’s work on nonviolence, the power of freedom songs, and taking action did not end in the 60’s. The film will include interviews with her colleagues & friends, archival footage of her talks & workshops, and the impact of her remarkable life.


We hope to have this project finished by Spring of 2020, and that it will inspire people to vote in the 2020 federal election.


Please give generously to this wonderful effort!

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About the Organization

Dorothy Cotton Institute - a project of CTA

The Dorothy Cotton Institute (DCI) is a fiscally sponsored project of the Center for Transformative Action, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent allowed by governing laws.

The Dorothy Cotton Institute honors the legacy of an important Civil Rights leader, Ms. Dorothy Cotton.
As an education and resource center, DCI is:
1) developing, nurturing, and training leaders for a global human rights movement;
2) building a network and community of human rights leadership; and
3) exploring, sharing, and promoting practices that transform individuals and communities, opening new pathways to peace, justice and healing.
The Problem
The Dorothy Cotton Institute will address three major problems regarding human rights.
1) Efforts to achieve human rights are largely disconnected from each other and have not generated a popular movement on a global scale.
2) Most people in the United States do not comprehend the full scope of human rights, defining them as voting rights, non-discrimination, free speech and freedom from torture, but...

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