Tuesday, April 20, 2010
7627: Dorothy Height (1912-2010).
From The New York Daily News…
Civil rights leader, former National Council of Negro Women chairwoman Dorothy Height dead at 98
By Rich Schapiro
Daily News Staff Writer
Dorothy Height, the leading female figure of the civil rights movement whose crusade for racial justice spanned more than six decades, died Tuesday. She was 98.
Height died from natural causes at Howard University Hospital, the hospital said.
A one-time caseworker for the city’s Welfare Department, Height led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years.
Her influence was pervasive. Height marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and urged President Dwight Eisenhower to desegregate schools.
President Barack Obama called her “the godmother of the civil rights movement” and a hero to Americans.
“Dr. Height devoted her life to those struggling for equality ... and served as the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement — witnessing every march and milestone along the way,” Obama said.
Born in Richmond, Va., in March 1912, Height was admitted to Barnard College in 1929, but was denied entrance because the school had already reached its limit of two black students.
She relocated to New York and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University.
While she was still a teenager, Height marched in New York’s Times Square shouting, “Stop the lynching.”
As an activist, Height participated in protests in Harlem and beyond.
In the 1950s and 1960s, she was the leading woman helping King and other activists craft the civil rights movement, regularly urging them to give more responsibility to their female counterparts.
“Having borne witness to discrimination, Dr. Height committed to eradicating intolerance — whether it be against a race, ethnicity, gender, or religion,” Gov. David Paterson said. “She marched with those tired of violence, stood with those ready for change and served for four decades as the leader of the National Council of Negro Women.”
Height became president of the National Council of Negro Women in 1957 and held the post until 1997, when she was 85. She remained chairman of the group.
“I hope not to work this hard all the rest of my life,” she said at the time. “But whether it is the council, whether it is somewhere else, for the rest of my life, I will be working for equality, for justice, to eliminate racism, to build a better life for our families and our children.”
Her tireless activism led to her winning numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
The late activist C. DeLores Tucker once called Height an icon to all African-American women.
“I call Rosa Parks the mother of the civil rights movement,” Tucker said in 1997. “Dorothy Height is the queen.”