On April 3rd, Tavis Smiley interviewed Dorothy Cotton, a long-time friend and colleague of Highlander and former Education Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), where she worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the interview, Ms. Cotton emphasized the importance of the SCLC’s citizenship education program, which began at Highlander in 1954 and which was transferred to SCLC in 1961 when Highlander was under attack for its work with the civil rights movement.

In Ms. Cotton’s view, the citizenship education program was “the best program SCLC had.” Its participants, she said, were “ordinary people right off the farms and the plantations,” and after their training they “went back to their home towns, and those home towns were never the same again.”

Ms. Cotton also discussed how she got involved in the civil rights movement, the sexism in the movement, and more.

You can listen to the interview, read a transcript, and watch a short video clip at http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archive/200804/20080403_cotton.html.