April 20th, 2010
09:59 AM ET

Highlights of civil rights activist Dorothy Height’s life

Dorothy Height stands with former President Bill Clinton to celebrate the signing of the Equal Pay Act.

Dorothy Height, a leading civil rights activist, died Tuesday, Howard University Hospital confirmed.

The hospital spokesman, Ron Harris, said Height died at 3:41 a.m. No cause of death was given. She was age 98.

Height, who had been chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women, worked in the 1960s alongside civil rights pioneers, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., future U.S. Rep. John Lewis and A. Philip Randolph.

Here's a look at the highlights of her life:


Birth date: March 24, 1912

Birth place: Richmond, Virginia

Birth name: Dorothy Irene Height

Parents: James Edward, building contractor, and Fannie (Burroughs) Height

Education: New York University, BA and MA (Educational Psychology), 1933

Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work (Post-Graduate)

Career Highlights:

*  1933 – Leader of the United Christian Youth Movement of North America.  Height works to prevent lynching and desegregate the armed forces.

*  1935 – Height is asked to work with ending Harlem riot.

*  1937 – Mary McLeod Bethune, National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) founder asks Height to join organization assisting with women's rights for equal pay and education.

*  1944-1977 – Height works in several leadership positions with the National Board of the YWCA of the USA.

*  1965 – Becomes Director of the Center for Racial Justice.

*  1944-1956 – Height serves as Vice President and later President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

*  1952-1955 – Is a member on the U.S. Department of Defense Advisory Committee on Women.

*  1957-1998 – National President of National Council of Negro Women.

*  1958-1968 – Is a member on the New York State Welfare Board.

*  1964 – Organizes "Wednesdays in Mississippi" to open communication among women of various races.

*  1964-1970 – Is a member of the American Red Cross board of governors.

*  1965-1977 – Is the founder and director of YWCA Center for Racial Justice.

*  1970 – Height creates the Women's Center for Education and Career Advancement in New York City.  Center helps women with entry-level jobs.

*  1993 – Is inducted into The National Women's Hall of Fame.

*  1994 – Is Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by president Bill Clinton.

*  October 25, 1997 – Participates in the "Million Woman March" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

*  1998 – Height becomes Chair and President Emerita of NCNW.

*  2004 – President George W. Bush presents Height with the Congressional Gold Medal.

*  January 20, 2009 – Is at the podium when Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

*  April 20, 2010 – Dies of natural causes at Howard University Hospital in DC.


Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir, 2003

Sources: Biography Resource Center, NCNW, Britannica 

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Ann

    A very distinquished, accomplished and proud lady. She lived a full life devoted to basic human rights for all. May she rest in peace.

    April 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dr. Norma H. Sermon-Boyd

    Dr. Height was a phenomenal woman who set the stage for all women in the world for leadership and service. I am pleased to have known her for many years and was present whe she received the Congressional Medal of Honor as one of her special guest. At the December 2009 NCMW National Conference she was forging ahead with zest and vigor to celebrate the 75th Anniverary of NCNW. It will be a joy to serve in the preparation of this historical event in her honor. Her legacy will live on.

    April 20, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. msjade44

    We will miss Ms.Dr.Height you will be miss take your rest now.

    April 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Diana Hart

    As a child in the 60's Dorothy Height was an inspiration to me! She was the reason I perserved to go forth with my college education, to obtain 3 college degrees and inspired me to continue once my children were adults because she never gave up. Following her lead, I have made so many concessions so that others could obtain their education as well; remembering that each one should help one. She deserves her seat in Heaven and will be missed sorely on this earth. God gave her longevity that is why she is a mighty warrior of God who has gone home.

    Rest in Peace, Ms. Height.

    April 21, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. Belinda Williams

    Such a Beautiful gift too us all. Lesson learned from her, that we must Love nad Nuture our children. We could in fact have amongst us another Dorothy Height. May God Bless her and Welcome her with open arms.
    Peaceful Journey, Sister/Soror Height.

    April 28, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Felise Bond

    A womon of vision, leadership and determination. You have fought for much and inspired many. Your legacy will forever live in our history, hearts and minds.
    Rest in Peace my beautiful Soror.

    April 29, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. derek vance

    hello i love this woman

    May 4, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Brianna McBride

    That last comment was not meant to be.. sorry

    May 4, 2010 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |