Civil Rights Activist and Leader Dorothy Height Dies at 98

Civil Rights Activist and Leader Dorothy Height Dies at 98


We’ve got to work to save our children and do it with full respect for the fact that if we do not, no one else is going to do it. ~ Dorothy Height (1912-2010)

Reuters reports that Chair and President Emerita of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Dorothy Height, died at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. of natural causes.  Height, 98, had been hospitalized since the end of March and was the subject of inaccurate Internet rumors reporting her death.

Dr. Height began her career as a civil rights activist in 1933 as a young social worker in Harlem, where she worked to prevent lynching, desegregate the armed forces, reform the criminal justice system and for free access to public accommodations in the South. In 1937, her life changed when the founder of the NCNW, Mary McLeod Bethune, observed Height escorting then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt into an NCNW meeting. At that point, she was recruited as first a member then rose through the ranks to become national president in 1957 serving until 1997.

Several United States presidents sought her counsel, namely Lyndon B. Johnson and Dwight D. Eisenhower. And her influence has been felt and noted in many national policy initiatives involving women and African Americans.

President Bill Clinton presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1994. In 2004, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

She was a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority Incorporated and also served as their national president  from 1946-1957.

Ms. Height never married. She is survived by one sister, Anthanette Height Aldridge of New York City.