Dorothy Cotton Institute

Building Global Community for Civil and Human Rights Leadership

The Dorothy Cotton Institute honors and perpetuates the legacy of Ms. Dorothy Cotton, one of the great, unsung heroes of the Civil Rights movement. As Education Director of the Citizenship Education Program of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Ms. Cotton helped ordinary people identify what was intolerable in their circumstances, envision the changes they desired, learn their civil rights, prepare for democratic engagement, craft courageous strategies for organizing communities, and transform themselves from “victims” to full “citizens.”

Ms. Cotton’s lifework–based on the philosophy and practices of nonviolence, reconciliation and restoration, and grassroots leadership development–offers valuable models upon which the Dorothy Cotton Institute builds.


The Dorothy Cotton Institute envisions the full realization of a just and peaceful Beloved Community in which all people understand, respect, protect and exercise full human rights. We believe that with a global community of human rights leadership, and a well informed, inspired and motivated population, in the United States and elsewhere, the goal of human rights for all can be achieved.


  • To develop, nurture and train leaders for a global human rights movement
  • To build a network and community of civil and human rights leadership
  • To explore, share and promote practices that transform individuals and communities, opening new pathways to peace, justice and healing