Dorothy Cotton

BOB FITCH PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE / STANFORD LIBRARIES

Recently-released FBI files on Martin Luther King Jr. put his extramarital affairs back into the limelight. But a woman named Dorothy Cotton, who many only know as King’s “other wife,” deserves much more than the label of mistress, according to scholar Jason Miller, professor of English at North Carolina State University. She is a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina whose commitment to grassroots organizing led her from serving as a housekeeper to becoming the only female director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She was charged with running the SCLC's education initiative, the Citizenship Education Program. Two years before her death in 2018, Cotton sat down for an extended interview with Miller.