Ronald Cotton

Ronald Cotton is coauthor of the New York Times best-selling book, Picking Cotton.

He has spoken at various schools and conferences, including Washington and Lee University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Georgetown Law School, and the Community March for Justice for Troy Anthony Davis in Savannah, Georgia.

Cotton’s life was turned upside down in 1984 when he was falsely accused of raping Jennifer Thompson, a 22-year-old college student. He was imprisoned for a crime he never committed.

Years later, Thompson was asked to provide a DNA sample for further analysis of the case. She agreed to the request, positive that her identification of Cotton would be held up by science. In an instant, both lives changed, when it was revealed that Cotton was not her rapist. After spending 11 years in prison as an innocent man, he was released.

Devastated that her actions led to the imprisonment of an innocent man, Thompson reached out to Cotton to apologize, and in an act of true generosity, he forgave her. Their unlikely friendship and bond became the basis for Picking Cotton.