Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height (1912-2010) was a prominent leader in Civil and Women’s Rights. Born in Richmond,Va her family moved to Rankin PA when she was a child.Height was accepted into Barnard College after graduating high school, but the school revoked her admittance after it was decided that they had reached their quota of black students for the year. She ultimately ended up attending New York University where she earned a Bachelors in Education and a Masters in Psychology.

Height worked as a social worker for sometime, then joined the staff of the Harlem YWCA in 1937. After meeting Mary McLeod Bethune she began volunteering with the National Council of Negro Women. She became president of the NCNW in 1957. In 1965 Height established the YWCA center for Racial Justice, which she ran until 1977.

Height became one of the leading figures of the Civil Rights movement, working closely with the “Big Six” ( Martin Luther King, John Lewis, James Farmer, Roy Wilkens, A.Phillip Randolph, and Whitney Young Jr.).  Height was one of the organizers of the historic March on Washington, but was not invited to speak that day, despite all of her work. She went on to become heavily involved in the fight for women’s rights. She helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus alongside Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Shirley Chisholm.

In her later years Height focused on strengthening the African American family. In 1986 she organized the first Black Family Reunion. In 1994 Height was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2004 she received the Congressional Gold Medal. Height was truly “The Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement”.

SJ as Dorothy Height


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