Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Memoriam: Dorothy Height (1912 - 2010)


Another icon of the Civil Rights Movement passed away on yesterday.

"Dorothy I. Height, 98, a founding matriarch of the American civil rights movement whose crusade for racial justice and gender equality spanned more than six decades, died Tuesday at Howard University Hospital. The cause of death was not disclosed."

"Ms. Height was among the coalition of African American leaders who pushed civil rights to the center of the American political stage after World War II, and she was a key figure in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities and public accommodations in the 1950s and 1960s."

"As president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, Ms. Height was arguably the most influential woman at the top levels of civil rights leadership."

"Although she never drew the media attention that conferred celebrity and instant recognition on some of the other civil rights leaders of her time, Ms. Height was often described as the "glue" that held the family of black civil rights leaders together. She did much of her work out of the public spotlight, in quiet meetings and conversations, and she was widely connected at the top levels of power and influence in government and business."

"As a civil rights activist, Ms. Height participated in protests in Harlem during the 1930s. In the 1940s, she lobbied first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on behalf of civil rights causes. And in the 1950s, she prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to move more aggressively on school desegregation issues. In 1994, Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor."

"In a statement issued by the White House, President Obama called Ms. Height "the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement and a hero to so many Americans.""

"She "devoted her life to those struggling for equality . . . witnessing every march and milestone along the way," Obama said."

Ms. Height was an inspiration to countless women and men throughout a long and illustrious life. We honor her memory and mourn her passing. Read more about this well spent life here.

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