Dr. Dorothy Irene Height is being remembered as a Civil Rights pioneer and the peoples leader who ruled with an iron fist in a velvet glove. She has also been referred to as the Lena Horne of the Civil Rights movement because of her grace and her ability to move Presidents into action.  


Those who knew Dr. Height and her accomplishments contend she was a tireless worker for issues of education, jobs and healthcare.  Heights voice was especially strong for African American women and the black family.



Dr. Height’s reach was long and it stretched around the globe to include a Micro Lending program in Africa.  She also taught social work in New Delhi, India for four months in 1952.  She also, was the national head of several organizations.  In 1947 she became the 10th national President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.   She was also President of the National Council of Negro Women.


Dr. Martha Joynt Kumar political scientist who studies the White House for Towson University, details some White House Height historic facts.


Dr. Height was sought after by then First Lady Elenore Roosevelt. 


Dr. Dorothy Height was present in June 1963 when President Kennedy signed Equal Pay legislation into law.


Dr. Height was there 35 years later when President Clinton signed into law Equal Pay legislation in 1998.


Dr. Height was present January 29, 2009 for President Obama’s East Room signing of the Lilly Leadbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, legislation relating to fair pay.


President Jimmy Carter named her as a member of Holocaust Memorial Council.


Dr. Height was in the room when President George W. Bush signed into law the Voting Rights Reauthorization in July 27, 2006.


August 8, 1994 Dr. Height was a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient with the award bestowed by President Bill Clinton.


July 28, 1983 President Ronald Reagan held a reception for the National Council of Negro Women highlighting the achievements of Dr. Height. 


Her Last White House public appearance was in March, 2010 where she was a guest for a Women’s History month event.  At that time First Lady Michelle Obama called Dr. Height “friend.”    Dr. Height was the last female Civil Rights era Icon.



Office of the Press Secretary
April 20, 2010
Statement by the President on the Passing of Dr. Dorothy Height

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.


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