Originally published through NNPA in the North Dallas Gazette, Tri-State Defender (Memphis), District Chronicles (Wash. DC) and the Cincinnati Herald at: http://cincinnatiherald.our-hometown.com/news/2010-04-24/Front_Page/Dr_Dorothy_Height.html?print=1
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Dr. Dorothy R. Height, the civil rights icon and living legend whose name has for decades been synonymous with quest for justice, died at the Howard University Hospital Tuesday morning at the age of 98.
Dr. Height was one of 20 female civil rights leaders honored in the Cincinnati Museum Center’s “Freedom’s Sisters’’ exhibit in 2008, and was present for events associated with the opening of the exhibit.
“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Dorothy Height – the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement and a hero to so many Americans,” President Obama said in a statement.
“Ever since she was denied entrance to college because the incoming class had already met its quota of two African- American women, Dr. Height devoted her life to those struggling for equality. She led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, and served as the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement – witnessing every march and milestone along the way,” the President said. “And even in the final weeks of her life – a time when anyone else would have enjoyed their well-earned rest – Dr. Height continued her fight to make our nation a more open and inclusive place for people of every race, gender, background and faith.”
Dr. Height, president emerita and chair of the NCNW, had long suffered with a lung ailment despite her hectic speaking schedule. She became noticeably ill March 18 while sitting in the conference room of the headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women talking with her administrative assistant, Christine Tony.
Doctors at the Howard Universi- ty Hospital admitted her to the hospital that day despite her protests that she desired to receive the esteemed Lifetime Achievers Award slated to be given to her that night from the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation. She remained hospitalized ever since and died shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday.
Civil rights leaders who awoke to the news of her death, reflected on her legacy like civil rights royalty.
“She was the Queen Mother of our whole civil rights movement,” said the Rev. Joseph Lowery. “She was the great example of intelligence, industry adventure and daring and commitment to what’s right in this country and to what’s witnessing for it. She was a great leader.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, in a phone interview from South Africa, said Dr. Height’s death means as much to the world as to America. He said the news of her death had hit the people of South Africa “like a shock wave … Those who knew Dr. Height knew a century of service. She often said, ‘The blood that unites us was stronger than the water that divides us,’” he said.
He reflected on how she knew and fought alongside other greats like Dr. King, Whitney Young, Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell, WEB Dubois and Bayard Rustin. “What a rich life of service,” Jackson said. He noted that he would notify former South Africa President Nelson Mandela of her death.
“This is a great, great loss,” said retired NAACP Chairman Julian Bond. “In standing out for the rights of women, you just go down the list and Dr. Height was there. She will be missed and missed and missed.
The Rev. Al Sharpton described her as “a true giant of a lady. She taught America what real womanhood was. And all the way to the end, she never left her post.”
Bennett College President, Dr. Julian Malveaux, who has been mentored by Dr. Height since the age of 19 said although sexism tried to squeeze Dr. Height out of the civil rights picture, Malveaux said, “She simply, quietlly, affectively, diligently and with dignity, did her work.”
Dr. Height dedicated her life to education and social activism. She has encouraged political figures such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, President Dwight Eisenhower and President Lyndon B. Johnson to create legislation and promote acts that benefited women and African Americans. And she has had the ear of every president since then.
At 98, the civil and human rights activist was still working for a better tomorrow.
Height did most of her work through the NCNW. But, she also chaired the executive committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the largest civil rights organization in the nation.
With every advancement, Height often reveled in how far African-Americans have come. “In my lifetime, I have witnessed the evolution of desegregation, the spread of civil rights and the rise of possibilities for people regardless of race and sex,” Height she said in a recent statement. “I have also recently witnessed the passage of our health-care bill, something people of all different races and genders can applaud.”
Dr. Height was the founder of the annual Black Family Reunions, including the Midwest Black Family Reunion held in Cincinnati.