A civil rights activist who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has died in Ithaca. Dorothy Cotton passed away at the Kendal at Ithaca retirement community Sunday at age 88.

During the civil rights movement, Cotton was one of just a few women in leadership positions in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She ran the Citizenship Education Program, which trained people on the importance of civic and political participation, as well as methods for voter registration and non-violent protest.

She eventually came to Cornell, where she was director of student activities from 1982-1991. Cotton later founded a consulting company focused on leadership development, individual empowerment and social change.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.