Dorothy Irene Height Dies, Matriarch of Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Matriarch Dr. Dorothy Irene Height Dies at Howard University Hospital
Dr. Dorothy Irene Height died of natural causes at Howard University Hospital today, reports The Washington Post. Dr. Height is the second civil rights leader to die in the past week.
An African American administrator, educator and social activist, Height is considered a founding matriarch of the civil rights movement and served as Chair and President Emerita of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years.
"For nearly half a century, Dorothy Irene Height has given leadership to the struggle for equality and human rights for all people. Her life exemplifies her passionate commitment for a just society and her vision of a better world," states a posting on NCNW.
Dr. Height was an honored guest at the inauguration of President Obama on January 20, 2009. In a statement issued by President Obama today, President Obama referred to Dr. Height as "the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement."
Dr. Height's Civil Rights Legacy
Dorothy I. Height's crusade for racial justice and gender equality spanned more than six decades. Ms. Height was among the coalition of African American leaders who pushed civil rights to the center of the American political stage in the years after World War II, and she was a key figure in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment and public accommodations.
Awards and Honors
Dr. Height received numerous awards and honors for her civil rights work. Among them: the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 presented to her by former president Bill Clinton, and the Congressional Gold Medal presented to her by former President George W. Bush on her 92nd birthday. She was also inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993, and was listed on Molefi Kete Asante's list of 100 Greatest African Americans in 2002.
Dr. Height no stranger to discrimination
Height wrote about being turned away for admittance to New York's Barnard College in her book, "Open Wide the Freedom Gates": "Although I had been accepted, they could not admit me … It took me a while to realize that their decision was a racial matter: Barnard had a quota of two Negro students per year, and two others had already taken the spots."
Nevertheless, she went on to New York University earning a master's degree in educational psychology in 1933, and has received thirty-six Honorary Doctorate Degrees from universities and colleges such as:
Tuskegee University, Spelman College, Pace University, Bennett College, Lincoln University, Harvard University, Howard University, Princeton University, New York University, Morehouse College, Meharry Medical College, Columbia University.
Dr. Height was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1912. She grew up in Rankin, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. She never married and had no children.
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States