Tuesday, May 4, 2010

an activist & advisor worth remembering.

white-girl confession: i didn't know a thing about dorothy height until her death late last month.

color me embarrassed [i.e., i'm a pink girl now].

because not only was dorothy irene height considered to be the grande dame of the civil rights movement, but she was also the first modern movement leader to treat equality for african-americans and equality for women as one and the same.

for example ... she was one of the chief organizers of the 1963 march on washington.

she was among those who insisted that dr. martin luther king, jr. be the final speaker of the day, so that his words would be well-remembered.

she sat just a few seats from the podium as dr. king delivered his inspirational "i have a dream" speech [that's her, above right, in the hat]. later, she mentioned being a little disappointed his talking points didn't address equal rights for women.

wow. amazing, miss dorothy.
and that was just one historic, progressive moment of an amazing life.

dorothy height was born in va and raised in pa.

dorothy was a teen when she commenced her activism career path, protesting at anti-lynching demonstrations.

dorothy was accepted at barnard college, but when she arrived, was denied entrance because the school had already admitted its quota of two black students for the year.

75 years later, barnard college designated miss dorothy as an honorary graduate.

she earned her actual undergraduate degree and her master's degree in educational psychology at new york university.

miss dorothy served as the president of the national council of negro women for forty years.

she helped found the national women's political caucus.

miss dorothy had the attention and ear of first lady eleanor roosevelt and every sitting president since.

she was awarded america's two highest civilian awards - the presidential medal of freedom in 1994 and the congressional gold medal in 2004.

she visited president obama in the oval office 21 times since january 2009.

she died april 20, 2010, of natural causes at the age of 98. she had three dozen honorary doctorates.

president obama eulogized her, wept openly at her funeral, and ordered u.s. flags flown at half-staff on april 29th in her honor.

miss dorothy never married. she loved knitting, sweet potato pie and stylish chapeaus.

amazing, miss dorothy.
amazing miss dorothy.

image sources: freedom's song, associated press

No comments: