10 Reasons Dorothy Height Is My She-Ro

Today many are mourning the passing of Dr. Dorothy Height, one of the trailblazers of the Civil Rights Movement. She had a long and active life, and we have all benefited from being in her era.

  1. Dorothy Irene Height was born on March 24, 1912 in Richmond, Virginia and was raised in Rankin, Pennsylvania. Height was admitted to Barnard College in 1929, but was denied entrance because the school had an unwritten policy of admitting only two black students. Instead, she attended at New York University. Height earned a bachelor’s degree in 1932 and a master’s degree in educational psychology in 1933.
  2. Height started working as a caseworker with the New York City Welfare Department and, and in 1944 she joined the national staff of the YWCA.
  3. When she was 25 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. In 1957, when she was 45, 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.
  4. She also served as National President of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority Incorporated from 1946-1957. While there she developed leadership training programs and interracial and ecumenical education programs. Height remained active with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority thoughtout her life.
  5. In addition, Dr. Height was the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the largest civil rights organization in the USA.

  6. Dr. Height served as counselor to several whites in leadership positions, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; she encouraged President Dwight D. Eisenhower to desegregate schools and President Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint African American women to positions in government.
  7. Height 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. In 1974, Height was named to the National Council for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which published The Belmont Report, a response to the infamous “Tuskegee Syphillis Study”
  8. In 2004, Height was recognized by Barnard for her achievements as an honorary alumna during its commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
  9. The musical stage play If This Hat Could Talk, based on her memoir Open Wide The Freedom Gates, debuted in 2005. It showcases her unique perspective on the civil rights movement and details many of the behind-the-scenes figures and mentors who shaped her life, including Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt.
  10. Dr. Height’s awards include:
    • Presidential Citizens Medal (1989)
    • Spingarn Medal from the NAACP (1993)
    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Freedom From Want Award (1993)
    • inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (1993)
    • Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994)
    • 7th Annual Heinz Award Chairman’s Medal (2001)
    • listed on Molefi Kete Asante’s list of 100 Greatest African Americans (2002)
    • Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush on behalf of the United States Congress (2004)

One thought on “10 Reasons Dorothy Height Is My She-Ro

  1. WOW! She accomplished a lot during her time here on earth. I understand why she is your She-Ro. She has definitely left a legacy for use to follow! I want to be able to do the same…

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