On the Lived Theology Reading List: If Your Back’s Not Bent

If Your Back's Not Bent: The Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement, By Dorothy F. CottonThe Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement

In If Your Back’s Not Bent, Dorothy F. Cotton, the only woman in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle, gives her account of the hugely important Citizenship Education Program. The CEP was an adult grassroots training program for disenfranchised citizens created by  the Tennessee Highlander Folk School, expanded by King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and directed by activist Dorothy Cotton. Although this program was critical in preparing citizens to protest peacefully in the face of violence and hatred from others, it is often called the best-kept secret of the civil rights movement due to the media silence at the time and the lack of coverage in history courses today. Cotton aims to change that, detailing CEP training and how the program changed its participants for the better, inspiring them to go and change the country. A timely account of fighting inequality, If Your Back’s Not Bent shows how the CEP was key to the civil rights movement’s success and how the lessons of the program can serve our troubled democracy now.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Dorothy Cotton has given us the story of the heart and lungs of the Freedom Struggle.”– Otis Moss, Jr.

“Dorothy Cotton is an inspiration to so many. We should all pay close attention to her story.”– Ben Jealous, former NAACP President and CEO

“Dorothy Cotton was as crucial to the Movement as was King, Abernathy and Shuttlesworth in her dogged preparation of the ‘troops.’”– Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Pastor Emeritus of Harlem’s Canaan Baptist Church of Christ

“Cotton’s Citizenship Education Program taught ordinary people, most importantly, that they could change both themselves and America.”– Betty DeRamus, author of Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad and Freedom by Any Means

For more information on the publication, click here.

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