The Legacy of Social Activist Dorothy Irene Height

Remembering the legacy of a heroic social activist that heavily impacted the Civil Rights Movement

By: Taren Vaughan

During the Civil Rights Movement, there were several influential individuals who were heavily involved in it. Of course, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most notable civil rights leaders. And then there was Rosa Parks who is most famous for igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Parks has been referred to as the “mother of the Civil Rights Movement”. As Rosa Parks’ contributions are still celebrated to this day, there was one phenomenal woman that played a huge role in the progression of African Americans and women during this time period.

Known as “the godmother of the women’s movement”, Dorothy Height accomplished numerous things throughout her incredible life journey.

So when did her journey begin?

It started in the early 1930’s. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Dorothy Height always excelled in school, especially in the oratorical area. She was known for her exceptional speaking skills which earned her a $1,000 scholarship in a national oratorical contest. Being the overachiever that she was, Dorothy Height received both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in a total of four years. How many of us could accomplish this in such a small time frame?

Shortly after obtaining her degrees, Height began her career as a civil rights activist once she joined the National Council of Negro Women. But it wasn’t enough that she was just a member of the organization. Dorothy Height took on the role as president of NCNW for an astounding forty years. Height also served as the 10th National President of her beloved sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated from 1946 to 1957. Even after serving her presidential term in the sorority, she continued to be a very active member, developing programs centered on leadership training and education. Dorothy Height strived for desegregation amongst the American people. She organized “Wednesdays in Mississippi”, an event that resulted in the union of Caucasian American and African American women from different regions of the US. Height’s powerful message concerning desegregation touched numerous political figures including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Even though the majority of her work was centered on helping African Americans and women, Dorothy Height fought for equality for all people, no matter what gender or skin color they were. She always stood up for what she believed in and had the ability to influence others not only to support her beliefs but to truly understand them. Her dedication to human rights will forever be remembered.

Dorothy Irene Height


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