(Photo from NYU Alumni Profiles)
She knew Eleanor Roosevelt and worked alongside Mary McLeod Bethune. She marched with Martin Luther King and cheered when Barack Obama’s inaugural parade passed by the Pennsylvania Avenue headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women, the organization she led with such zeal and dignity for so many years. Dr. Dorothy I. Height, who passed away this morning at age 98, was one of the last great icons of the Civil Rights Era. She was one of few women at the very top of the civil rights movement. Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights legend himself, said of Dorothy Height:
“She was truly a pioneer, and she must be remembered as one of those brave and courageous souls that never gave up, never gave in,” Lewis said. “She was a feminist and a major spokesperson for the rights of women long before there was a women’s movement.”
I had the great privilege of meeting Dr. Height on several occasions over the last several years. Well into her advanced years, she was still a powerful presence for justice and human rights in every room she passed through. Her words always challenged her audience to keep trying harder to ensure justice. Her legacy will continue in the remarkable sense of justice and support for civil and women’s rights she brought to the people and organizations she served, from the YWCA to the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to numerous civil rights and women’s rights advocacy organizations. Another part of her legacy is the annual Black Family Reunion on the Mall that was her inspiration.
Did you know or admire Dr. Dorothy Height? Please share your thoughts on her legend and legacy by leaving a comment on this blog, just click on “comments” below and leave your tributes to this great woman.