RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – To mark her birthday, Google paid tribute to civil and women’s rights activist Dorothy Height. Height is a Richmond native who mainly worked to improve the lives of African-American women.
She served as president of the National Council of Negro Women and has won numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
Born in Richmond on March 24, 1912, Height was educated in Pittsburgh.
Upon graduating high school she won a $1,000 national Elks scholarship for her public speaking abilities, according to the University of Virginia Library.
She would go on to earn a bachelor’s in education in 1930 and master’s degree in psychology in 1932 from New York University. She later did post-graduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work.
Height’s career as a civil rights activist began in 1933 when she became leader of the United Christian Youth Movement during the New Deal era.
The National Council of Negro Women, Inc. stated that during this time she worked hard to protest lynching, desegregate the armed forces, reform the criminal justice system and equal opportunity to public accommodations.
She also played a key role in the Harlem YWCA, an organization that looks to eliminate racism and empower women.
It was through this program that Height met Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of the NCNW, and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Throughout her leadership career, Height held many more positions.
She served as president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. from 1947 to 1956.
She was inaugurated in 1965 to be the Director of the Center for Racial Justice in the national division of the YWCA. She was also elected the fourth National President of the NCNW in 1957, a position she would hold until 1998 when, according to NCNW, “she became Chair and President Emerita.”
She was also one of the the key organizers of the March on Washington and even stood close to Martin Luther King, Jr. when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Height died April 20, 2010.