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.
In the turmoil of the civil rights struggles in the 1960s, Ms. Height helped orchestrate strategy with movement leaders including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph and John Lewis, who would later serve as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia.
In August 1963, Ms. Height was on the platform with King when he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. But she would say later that she was disappointed that no one advocating women's rights spoke that day at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Less than a month later, at King's request, she went to Birmingham, Ala., to minister to the families of four black girls who had died in a church bombing linked to the racial strife that had engulfed the city.
At every major effort for social progressive change, Dorothy Height has been there," Lewis said in 1997 when Ms. Height announced her retirement as president of the National Council of Negro Women.
Read the full tribute @ the source.
Ladies of the National Council of Negro Women gather outside the downtown Washington headquarters, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, to prepare for the arrival of the body of Dorothy Height, the leading female voice of the 1960s civil rights movement. Height died April 20 at the age of 98.
J. Scott Applewhite | AP Photo
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) greets Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) at the funeral service for civil rights leader Dorothy Height at the Washington National Cathedral April 29, 2010 in Washington, DC.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele attends the funeral service for civil rights leader Dorothy Height at the Washington National Cathedral April 29, 2010 in Washington, DC.
The Obamas arrive for the service, which was also attended by the vice president and his wife.
Bill O'Leary | The Washington Post
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) greets Jesse Jackson at the funeral service for civil rights leader Dorothy Height at the Washington National Cathedral April 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Height led the National Council of Negro Women and marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Poet Maya Angelou attends the funeral service for civil rights leader Dorothy Height at the Washington National Cathedral April 29, 2010 in Washington, DC.
US President Barack Obama (on podium) speaks during the funeral of Dorothy Height, a historic figure in the US civil rights movement, at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, on April 29, 2010. Height, who led the National Council for Negro Women for four decades, and was present at the key battles for racial equality since the 1930s, died at age 98 after a lifetime devoted to the fight for equality.
A portrait of civil rights heroine Dorothy Height was carried from the headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women in Washington Wednesday, headed to be displayed with her casket at nearby Howard University. President Barack Obama eulogized Ms. Height Thursday at the Washington National Cathedral. She died April 20 at the age of 98.
J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press
- Services remember Dorothy Height
- Dorothy Height's Civil Rights Legacy
- Final farewells to civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height
- An Interview With Dorothy Height
- Dorothy Height with President Obama at the White House
- Remembering Dr. Dorothy Height: Obama's Eulogy
I dont think we had any articles in tribute to Dr. Height, so being Mother's Day, it seems fitting to have something about a badass matriarch for U.S. civil rights and gender equality of the 20th century.