Posted By: Jehan Bunch on February 12, 2008 |
“We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system. But also for and with those who often have so much to give but never get the opportunity.”- Dorothy Height
Dorothy Irene Height was born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 24, 1912. She was the daughter of James Edward Height, a building contractor, and Fannie Burroughs Height, a nurse. When Dorothy Height was very young, the family moved to Rankin, Pennsylvania, not far from Pittsburgh, where she attended integrated schools.
As a high school student, Height made a speech about slavery amendments to the U.S.Constitution that won her a scholarship to the college of her choice. Although she was accepted at Barnard College in New York City, when she showed up to enroll there, she was told the college's quota for blacks had been filled. Instead, she enrolled in New York University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in social sciences and a master's degree in educational psychology.
Height started working as a caseworker with the New York City Welfare Department and, at the age of twenty-five, she began a career as a civil rights activist when she joined the National Council of Negro Women. She fought for equal rights for both African Americans and women, and in 1944 she joined the national staff of the YWCA.
She also served as National President of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated from 1946-1957.
In 1957, Height was named president of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she held until 1997. During the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Height organized "Wednesdays in Mississippi", which brought together black and white women from the North and South to create a dialogue of understanding. American leaders regularly took her counsel, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Height also encouraged President Dwight D. Eisenhower to desegregate schools and President Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint African American women to positions in government.
Height has served on a number of committees, including as a consultant on African affairs to the Secretary of State, the President's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped, and the President's Committee on the Status of Women. She has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Freedom From Want Award and the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. She has also been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
In 2004, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush on behalf of the United States Congress.
Dr. Height is currently, at age 95, the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the largest civil rights organization in the USA.
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