Dorothy Height, Tireless Rights Fighter, Dies

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[National: Passings]

President Barack Obama has praised Dorothy Height, the tireless civil rights activist and former president of  the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), who died this morning at Howard University Hospital, as "the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement."

In a statement from The White House, Obama said: "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.

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. 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. Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Dr. Height--and all those whose lives she touched."

Dorothy Height was 98.

Messages of condolences continue to come from around the country.

"The NAACP family is saddened by the passing of Dr. Dorothy Height, civil rights pioneer, social justice advocate and long time friend of the NAACP. Dr. Dorothy I. Height was the beloved matriarch of the civil rights movement,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. 

“The nation has lost a stalwart champion for civil rights and gender equality. With perseverance and strong determination Dr.
Height broke through the proverbial glass ceiling as the only woman working side by side with the “Big Six” to secure civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 60s.  Today we have lost a strong voice and champion for women and children.  Her lasting contributions will live on through the lives of those she touched and mentored,” added Brock.

NAACP CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said: “I was introduced to the legacy of Dr. Dorothy Height through my 93 year-old
grandmother, who considered Dr. Height one of her heroes. Our first meeting was at the 1993 March on Washington, where I was an organizer for the event. Dr. Height was a tireless and committed fighter for civil rights. Despite being in poor health, she joined the NAACP late last year in our health care war room to advocate for health care room. The defining legacy of Dr. Height will be the countless individuals she inspired and mentored into positions of great leadership.”

“She will be most remembered for what she did to encourage women to reach greater levels of achievement, but the truth is that she also guided and mentored the ambition to service and contributions of thousands of men.  Her passion for a just society and her vision for a better world inspires us all,” he added.

NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond said: “Dr. Height never saw a mountain she could not overcome, from being denied entry to Barnard College to achieving a master’s degree in psychology at NYU and lobbying President Kennedy to sign the Equal Pay Act in 1963.  She was the matriarch of the civil rights movement, and will be greatly missed.”

Myrlie Evers-Williams, also NAACP Chair Emeritus added: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dr. Dorothy Height.  I recall her formidable presence when she spoke during the funeral of my husband Medgar.  She spoke earnestly about the civil rights struggle and how the conditions affected young people, especially about their treatment at the hands of law enforcement.  Although childless, she was Mother to all of us—she was family.  Hers was a steady, loving influence on all of us involved in the struggle for justice and equality.  She was a woman of great drive who never lost sight of the goal of equal rights and human rights for all Americans, particularly women."

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