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Dorothy I. Height

Dorothy Irene Height
Born March 24, 1912 (1912-03-24) (age 97)
Richmond, Virginia,
United States

Dorothy Irene Height (born: March 24, 1912) is an African American administrator, educator, social activist, and a 2004 recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal.


Headline text


Height was born in Richmond, Virginia. At an early age, she moved with her family to Rankin, Pennsylvania.


Height started working as a caseworker with the New York City Welfare Department and, at the age of twenty-five, 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, and in 1944 she joined the national staff of the YWCA. She also served as National President of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority Incorporated from 1946-1957.[1] She remains active with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. While there she developed leadership training programs and interracial and ecumenical education programs.[2]

Dorothy Height

In 1957, 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. American leaders regularly took her counsel, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Height also encouraged President Dwight D. Eisenhower to desegregate schools and President Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint African American women to positions in government. In the mid 1960s, Height wrote a column entitled "A Woman's Word" for the weekly African-American newspaper, the New York Amsterdam News. Her first column appeared in the March 20th, 1965 issue (p. 8).

Height has 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 [3]- a response to the infamous "Tuskegee Syphillis Study" and an international ethical touchstone for researchers to this day.

Dr. Height is currently, at age 97, the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the largest civil rights organization in the USA. She was an honored guest and seated among the dignitaries at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.

Every year, she still personally attends the National Black Family Reunion, celebrated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Awards and Honors



  1. ^ D. Height. (2003) Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir, New York, NY:PublicAffairs Press.
  2. ^ D. Height. (2003) Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir, New York, NY:PublicAffairs Press.
  3. ^
  4. ^ The Heinz Awards, Dorothy Height profile
  5. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-963-8.
  • Height, Dorothy. Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir.
  • Tracey A. Fitzgerald, The National Council of Negro Women and the Feminist Movement, 1935-1975, Georgetown University Press, 1985.
  • Judith Weisenfeld, "Dorothy Height", Black Women in America: Profiles, MacMillan Library Reference USA, New York, 1999, pp. 128–130.

External links



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