Women's History Month Feature: Dorothy I. Height - Civil Rights Pioneer
The month of March signifies the beginning of Women’s history Month. In honor of this occasion, we will be featuring an outstanding woman from history, highlighting the amazing accomplishments of women in our nation’s storied past
Our next installment features Dorothy I Height, a champion for racial justice and gender rights..
Dorothy Heights was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1912. As early as high school, Dorothy developed a passion for social justice and participated in anti-lynching campaigns. She was a talented speaker and earned acclaim for her oratory skills. She earned a bachelor's degree in Education and master's is psychology at NYU.
After college, Dorothy worked as a caseworker for the NYC Welfare Department, where she met Mary McLeod Bethune, head of the National Council for Negro Women. Mary served as Dorothy's mentor, and eventually Dorothy rose to head the NCNW in 1957.
During the height of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Dorothy's leadership of the NCNW took her activism to new heights. She helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963 and worked in close partnership with Dr. Martin Luther King, Ella Baker and other prominent leaders. Notably, Dorothy was not given the opportunity to speak at the March, despite her oratory skills. As she put it, her male counterparts were "happy to include women in the human family, but there was no question as to who headed the household."
Dorothy Height would be active in many other organizations. In 1971, she helped found the National Women's Political Caucus with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm. In 1994, President Clinton awarded Dorothy with the highest civilian honor in our country, the Presidential Medal of Freeom.
Truly, Dorothy Height was an inspiration to us all and a tremendous advocate for social justice.