Sunday, February 10, 2013

BLACK HISTORY MONTH No. 8: 12 Things to Know About Dorothy Height

"Without community service, 
we would not have a strong quality of life.  
It's important to the person who serves 
as well as the recipient.  
It's the way in which we ourselves 
grow and develop."

"Greatness is not measured by 
what a man or woman accomplishes,
but by the opposition he or she
has overcome to reach his goals."

Dorothy Irene Height  1912 ~2010

1.  About three weeks before the great ship Titanic went down, Dorothy Irene Height was born in Richmond, Virginia, the old capital city of the Confederacy, on 24 March, 1912.

2, But it wasn't long before her folks moved, so Dorothy grew up in Pennsylvania.  As a high school student, she entered a national contest, writing and speaking about the U.S. Constitution. Ms Height, the only African American contestant and won a 4-year college scholarship.

3.  17-yr-old Dorothy was accepted  at Barnard College, in 1929. Then turned away: they'd already accepted as many Negros as they had to that year.  imagine that

So she went to NY University.  She'd earn college degrees in social work and educational psychology.

4. For decades,  Miss Height employed these disciplines as an energetic and constant worker in organizations devoted to making civil and economic life more just. In a racist world where, generally speaking, women and girls still, as ever, get the short end of the stick, Ms. Height had her work cut out for her.  Against lynching and AIDS. For universal suffrage and reproductive freedom. Softening the burdens of poverty.

5. To that end, Ms. Height involved herself with the YWCA,  which got started in the latter 1800s, in England, as more and more young women were moving to London and other big cities to work in factories.

Mary McLeod Bethune
6.  And the National Council of Negro Women, founded by the great leader and educator, Mary McLeod Bethune.  

7.  In Mrs. Bethune, Ms. Height found a valuable mentor.

8. Dorothy Height served as president of the Nat'l Council of Negro Women for 40 years, from 1957 until 1997.  As such, she advised U.S. Presidents.

9. Of the key individuals who brought about the March on Washington in August 1963, only Dorothy Height was NOT asked to speak.  "I didn't feel I should elbow myself to the front when the press was focused on the male leaders."  After all, as Ms. Height would often say, it wasn't a question of personal limelight but collective struggle.  

10.  For her life time of service to her country, Dorothy Height was given 3 dozen honorary doctoral degrees (AND an honorary degree from Barnard, 75 yrs. after they closed the door on her)  AND her nation's two highest civilian awards.  In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded Ms. Height the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Ten years later, President Geo. W. Bush awarded her the Congressional Gold Medal 

11. Apart from all else, Ms. Height was a lady of glorious hats.   Note this treasure of a VIDEO:  in which Ms. Height wore a very nice one at the White House, recounting to President Barack Obama her memories of young Martin Luther King. 

12. Ms. Height passed away 20 April 2010. Her obituary in the NY Times was one of MANY tributes to this great American.

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