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Dorothy Height, Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 98

Posted by Media Outrage on April 20, 2010

Dorothy Height who was a major link in the civil rights movement has passed on at 98.

WASHINGTON – Dorothy Height, the leading female voice of the 1960s civil rights movement and a participant in historic marches with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others, died Tuesday. She was 98.

Height led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years. She continued actively speaking out into her 90s but had been at Howard University Hospital for some time. The hospital said in a statement she died of natural causes.

President Barack Obama called her “the godmother of the civil rights movement” and a hero to many Americans. Obama said in a statement that Height was the only woman at the highest level of the civil rights movement and witnessed “every march and milestone along the way.”

It was the second death of a major civil rights figure in less than a week. Benjamin L. Hooks, the former longtime head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, died Thursday in Memphis at 85.

As a teenager, Height marched in New York’s Times Square shouting, “Stop the lynching.” In the 1950s and 1960s, she was the leading woman helping King and other activists orchestrate the civil rights movement.

One of Height’s sayings was, “If the time is not ripe, we have to ripen the time.” She liked to quote 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who said that the three effective ways to fight for justice are to “agitate, agitate, agitate.”

The late activist C. DeLores Tucker once called Height an icon to all African-American women.

“I call Rosa Parks the mother of the civil rights movement,” Tucker said in 1997. “Dorothy Height is the queen.”

Height was on the platform at the Lincoln Memorial, sitting only a few feet from King, when he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963.

“He spoke longer than he was supposed to speak,” Height recalled in a 1997 Associated Press interview. But after he was done, it was clear King’s speech would echo for generations, she said, “because it gripped everybody.”

Height became president of the National Council of Negro Women in 1957 and held the post until 1997, when she was 85. She remained chairman of the group.

“I hope not to work this hard all the rest of my life,” she said at the time. “But whether it is the council, whether it is somewhere else, for the rest of my life, I will be working for equality, for justice, to eliminate racism, to build a better life for our families and our children.”

Height received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 from President Bill Clinton.

To celebrate Height’s 90th birthday in March 2002, friends and supporters raised $5 million to enable her organization to pay off the mortgage on its Washington headquarters. The donors included Oprah Winfrey and Don King.

Height was born in Richmond, Va., and the family moved to the Pittsburgh area when she was four. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University and did postgraduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work. (She had been turned away by Barnard College because it already had its quota of two black women.)

In 1937, while she was working at the Harlem YWCA, Height met famed educator Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of the National Council of Negro Women, and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who had come to speak at a meeting of Bethune’s organization. Height eventually rose to leadership roles in both the council and the YWCA.

Mediaoutrage– R.I.P. Hopefully this generation will recognize that their is still a need in the area of civil rights and take a stand.

26 Responses to “Dorothy Height, Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 98”

  1. MizzMimi said

    and she was fly the whole time….RIP

    • 私は愛を午前 said

      Yep! Definitely digging her style and those colors, i could do with a nice church hat, wonder if she’s donating? lol

      #RIPDorothy Height

  2. darnay said

    Rest in Peace Old Soldier..

  3. joneblaze said

    Fought for civil rights well into her 90’s R.I.P

  4. Terrance said

    This is my fear, one day there won’t be anyone left who had experienced the struggle first hand. This will lead to the struggle being considered ancient history and worthy of being forgotten. This is why we have to continue to inform ourselves and generations after us about the black experience. Rest in Peace Ms. Height.

    • 私は愛を午前 said

      Don’t worry there will always be struggles and people who are willing to fight (you+me), we have a long way to go as a race, it might not be the civil rights, but we will have others for ‘youngsters’ to learn from. I agree, we need to have kids reading more and have our history added to the school curriculum, but rest assured our history will not be forgotten, too many memories, too many scars and too many things in society to remind us of what we are/were going through. RIP Dorothy!

    • BadBadKitty0727 said

      Our struggle will never be forgotten. It is well-documented. What it’s going to take is parents/mentors, etc. to understand they cannot rely on our educational system to fully tell our story, then take the time to expose their children to the many resources that are available.

      “….have our history added to the school curriculum….”
      Huh? What community do you live in where it’s NOT part of the curriculum?

    • 私は愛を午前 said

      Let me REPHRASE for those who can’t understand…

      Minimal information is provided about our african history in schools. Yes we know MLK, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, but certain things are really not taught until one takes an African American History course in Colleges/Universities, we know more about ‘white history’ than our own.

      I hope all is CLARIFIED now…Capiscé?

      • Kanyade said


        I didn’t learn about the Panthers, Marcus Garvey, etc. until I got to college. Even now the conservative nutjobs that comprise the House and Senate in the state of Texas are trying to change the curriculum (the canon) of the history books. Outrageous! Historians from all over the world are protesting; historians of all different colors.

        It can begin with something as simple as an edit.

      • 私は愛を午前 said

        “It can begin with something as simple as an edit.”… As ‘simple’ as that sound, it’s very practical and quite chilling. If they can ‘ignore’ some books of the bible and teach us what they want, how ‘hard’ do you think it will be to ‘lose’ some history books, oppress us some more -heck even enslave us again? Look at us, most blacks are ‘christians’, why? Because they thought our African religion was ‘voodoo’ and they took us and completely re-socialized us with their European ideals, why do you think we bleach, we perm? Shoot, they even try to tell us we are ‘ghetto’ if we speak a certain way, just because they don’t understand us.

        @ Oh and kitty, that was a poor jab at my nationality, which i might add has more opportunities to learn about my ‘blackness’ than the current American society *smh

      • Terrance said

        Ms. Behave, we seem to be on the same page but I want to address a popular misconception that many people have concerning blacks and Christianity. There were black rulers and kingdoms in Africa that were Christian well before European invaders. King Ezana ruled a Christian empire in Cush (Ethiopia) in A.D. 330. So the belief that Africans were taught about Christianity from slave masters is not entirely true.

      • BadBadKitty0727 said

        Let me make something real clear to you Ms. Behave.
        I NEVER come on this site tryin’ to make jabs at ANYBODY, overtly or covertly. That’s your department and I’ll let you have it. I state my opinion just like everybody else and just because you don’t happen to agree with it, you ALWAYS say some ole slick bullshit to try to downplay someone else’s opinion. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s right, most times it’s wrong as evidenced by Cut Up’s comment.

        Lastly, my question was, “what community do you live in where it’s not part of the curriculum?” It was not an attempt to make a jab at your nationality – far from it. We have schools in my community where the ENTIRE curriculum of the school is based on African-American studies.

        The American education system has SERIOUS flaws, but there aren’t many systems in the country that provide as much opportunity and resources as ours.

      • P.S. I love MO!!! said

        Well first let me say THANK YOU for finally stopping to beat around the bush and say what you wanted, a few days, a couple post later but FINALLY, came through. I KNEW that you commenting on MOST of my replies wasn’t just you trying to ‘socialize’.

        You talk about not taking ‘jabs’ but there you are doing it, “That’s your department”, hypocrite much? Why are you making a comment i made to ‘terrance'(yes that’s his name not ‘cut up’) YOUR problem? When did i make a statement to YOU, i replied to ‘terrance’, YOU were the one that had something to say about MY comment.

        Now based on the ‘jabs’ your making, i see that you’ve been ‘carrying feelings’ all this time. This is a BLOG, stop coming here expecting, agreements and mushy comments, if i wanted to do that i would be on a FAN site. Everything here is opinionated and I WILL post my OPINIONS whether you or anyone else like them or not, just move on or do what i am famously known for and that is to ‘simply ignore’. Have you noticed that the comments are coming TO me not from me about me being hateful or whatever else they frame me for lol, people have issues with me, not me having issues with them, so i say – YOUR PROBLEM NOT MINE.

        Many mistake my posting for ‘fights’, how can you? when you don’t take the time to read and understand what is going on, just because two posters go back and for doesn’t mean they are ‘fighting or arguing’, they are simple trying to reach a consensus by offering different point of views, case in point.

        Everyone has a STYLE of posting, so i urge you to familiarize yourself with it before you go out and judge, because that is exactly what you are doing, judging. As i said before it is unbecoming of a MO POSTER to whine, we go hard or go home. Stop carrying feelings from one post to another, if i disagree with you on one, i might not on other, stop being so SENSITIVE, again this is a BLOG where OPINIONS are reflected in EVERY COMMENT.

        As to addressing the issue with education in schools, the way you asked the question was as if, it is in ALL your schools and my mention of it been lacking was a new phenomenon for you, you might want to check the TONE of your questions and your wording then, if you weren’t trying to be ‘slick’.

        Secondly, i can be slick, i can be funny, but NEVER will i be PHONY, what you read is what you get, unlike some posters, i will leave there names out because i don’t have time for so many ‘battles’ today lol, i don’t ‘drop’ words, i say what’s on my mind. I find it VERY INSULTING not the fact that you say something like this but the fact that you are OBVIOUSLY NOT paying attention, i’m one of the FEW MO posters that tell it like it is, whether you like it or not. I am human hence connected to some form of emotion and QUITE APPROACHABLE, i’m on a blog and don’t expect people to be ‘nice’ to me, i will become VERY DEFENSIVE if you approach me that way. Next time, when i ‘downplay someone else’s (specifically you) opinion’, why don’t you ‘defend’, by actually having a CONVERSATION with me, because OBVIOUSLY it’s not healthy you caring around all these feelings and ‘hurting'(i can tell by just reading your comments).

        Lastly (i almost finished lol), funny thing is i DON’T have ANY of you up, i just don’t understand, how someone like ME, who based on popular vote lol is very ‘hateful’, manages to enter a new post each time with a clean slate, this thought just came to me, maybe just maybe *gasp* I’M NOT AS HATEFUL AS YOU GUYZ THINK *major gasp* maybe you guyz are too SENSITVE or possible the hateful ones or maybe you need to log on to a religious site/fan site with your favorite celebs getting all the ‘lovely’ comments they deserve or *EPIC GASP* maybe MO is NOT for you… food for thought 💡

      • P.S. I love MO!!! said

        @ Terrance … thanks for the info i will read more on it, i’m aware that Christianity was in Africa before slavery, there is also some mention of an Ethiopian official of Queen Candace mentioned in the book of Acts, and free Coptic Christians in Egypt from early days. There were also free Africans who became Christians from the beginning of Christianity.

        The slaves shipped to America and Caribbean, were the ones most affected by this cultural erosion, they were the ones that Christianity was forced on, it’s wasn’t an option for them and most of us on the western side (I’m assuming you+me) are descendants of them and we are the ones facing current predicament.

      • P.S. I love MO!!! said

        Oh and last thing kitty, “Sometimes it’s right, most times it’s wrong as evidenced by Cut Up’s [sic] comment” (another ‘jab’ by the way)… I’m not here to ‘be right’, just voicing an opinion, on matter’s where facts are thrown into play, like this post here, i think of it more as a learning experience, i don’t know if you do, but when I’m ‘called out’ (rarely, if i might brag lolol 🙂 ) i actually take time to research what i was told and add it to my list of ‘things learned today’, yes that’s an actual list i have, it’s a DAILY goal of mine to learn something new or be corrected on an already established view, so don’t pride yourself in sinking that dagger too hard, because i really do BENEFIT from being ‘wrong’, a lot more than been ‘right’ , toodles 🙂

        *[sic] Should’ve been Terrance.

    • Yeah I Said It said

      History repeats itself.The struggle is the same dressed up in the constitution to give off the ideal we are past the inhuman treatment of a race of people based on the color of their skin. We see it everyday on the news and in our own communities. There will always be us as a black race, that keeps the past relavent. We just need to come together to decide how we really want to be treated by the anger that stands against us, and stand against it as one. Unless we get past how we treat each other, our history will be, the killing of our own. and the past will become a myth.

  5. ucanb2 said

    RIP… Mother Heights!


    We dont have many strong leaders these days so its always sad to c one go. *sigh* RIP 🙂

  7. Jolie said

    R.I.P., you fought a great fight.

  8. Verbalism7 said

    May she rest in peace. This generation needs to get its sh!t together for real.

  9. Debi Gurl said

    Enjoy your reward in Heaven Dr. Height and thank you!

  10. currvalicious said

    Rest In Peace to both civil rights icons Dorothy Height & Benjamin Hooks. May their life’s work live on in those who fight for the rights & freedom for who cannot fight for themselves.

  11. Kanyade said

    RIP 😦

  12. emliy said


  13. MissTX said

    It’s definitely obvious from her time here that she fought a GREAT fight. 98 yrs. is a beautiful blessing. R.I.P. to her and condolences to her family.

  14. ALLISWELL5 said

    Beautiful Struggle.

    God Bless Dorothy Height…Freedom Fighter!

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