January 20

Civil rights activist Cotton recalls King

Cotton asks Colby College crowd to envision the world they want to live in and ask if their actions further that vision.

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

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Staff photo by David Leaming AUTHOR: Dr. Dorothy P. Cotton, an activist and educator during the civil rights era, spoke during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative program to a full house at Lorimer Chapel at Colby College in Waterville on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.

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Staff photo by David Leaming AUTHOR: Dr. Dorothy P. Cotton spoke to a full house at Lorimer Chapel at Colby College in Waterville about civil rights during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative program on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.

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“He would say — I never forgot it — ‘Nobody can ride your back if your back’s not bent,’” she said. “It’s a metaphor for feeling like nobody. That’s all he meant by that.”

Effie McClain, pastor of Oakland-Sidney United Methodist Church, said Cotton’s speech was a powerful one.

“There was a lot in it,” said McClain, 42. “I think it was like, you got snapshots of history. It was like looking at somebody’s picture album.”

Members of Colby’s Students Organized for Black & Hispanic Unity group gave Cotton the 2014 Champion of Justice Award.

Cotton, who has received many other awards, including the National Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum, told a story about when she was 11 or 12 and a little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy in her neighborhood in North Carolina rode by on his bicycle, stirring up dust and singing “Deep in the Heart of Niggertown,” a perverted version of the song “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”

That was the moment she knew all was not right in the world.

“Something was churning inside of me because something was wrong with that picture, that this boy could do that.”

The road was dusty because the road through her neighborhood was not paved. The pavement began where his neighborhood started.

Amy Calder — 861-9247 acalder@centralmaine.com Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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Additional Photos

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Staff photo by David Leaming HISTORY LESSON: Colby College student Jocelyn Thomas asks questions to author Dr. Dorothy P. Cotton who gave the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative address on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.

  


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