RIP Dr. Dorothy Height

Dr. Dorothy Height, iconic civil rights champion, died today. She was 98 years old.
Dorothy I. Height, 98, a founding matriarch of the American civil rights movement whose crusade for racial justice and gender equality spanned more than six decades, died early Tuesday morning of natural causes, a spokesperson for the National Council of Negro Women said.

Ms. Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years. … As a civil rights activist, Ms. Height participated in protests in Harlem during the 1930s. In the 1940s, she lobbied first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on behalf of civil rights causes. And in the 1950s, she prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to move more aggressively on school desegregation issues. In 1994, Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

In a statement issued by the White House, President Obama called Height "the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement and a hero to so many Americans."

"Dr. Height devoted her life to those struggling for equality . . . witnessing every march and milestone along the way," Obama said. "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."
And sexuality: She was also a vocal supporter of gay equality.

There are fictional stories told about characters who bear witness to important historical events, characters like Forrest Gump or Harry Flashman. Dr. Height's real life was like one of those characters; she stood in attendance at nearly all of the important moments in 20th century Black American history, drove and bore witness to the greatest progressive victories for the nation. She was the only woman seated on the platform when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

In her acceptance speech at the 1997 Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, at which she was honored for her civil rights work, Dr. Height said: "Civil rights are civil rights. There are no persons who are not entitled to their civil rights. … We have to recognize that we have a long way to go, but we have to go that way together."

She was a woman who believed in teaspoons. And gorgeous hats.

Monica has more.

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