Apr 29, 2010

WATCH LIVE: Dr. Dorothy Height's Funeral starting 10am EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will deliver the eulogy Thursday for the late Dorothy I. Height, a woman he calls the godmother of the civil rights movement.

Height, who led the National Council of Negro Women for decades and marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will be honored during a funeral service at Washington National Cathedral for her leadership on the front lines fighting for equality, education and to ease racial tension. She died last week at age 98.

"Dr. Height devoted her life to those struggling for equality ... and served as the only woman at the highest level of the civil rights movement -- witnessing every march and milestone along the way," Obama said in a statement when she died April 20.

She was a voice for women in the civil rights movement and beyond. Leading women are expected to celebrate her life in return, including poet Maya Angelou, educator Camille Cosby, singers BeBe Winans and Denyce Graves, among others.

Height was a quietly powerful figure in Washington, meeting with every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Her activism stretched from Obama's election back to the New Deal. In recent years, she was cheered at events and easily recognizable in the colorful hats she often wore.

Born in Richmond, Va., in 1912 before women could vote and when black people had few rights, Height went on to earn bachelor's and master's degrees from New York University. As a social worker in the 1930s, she worked to resolve riots in Harlem and marched in protest of lynching.

She became a leader in the YWCA, worked to desegregate public facilities and was one of 10 young people chosen by Eleanor Roosevelt to spend a weekend at the first lady's Hyde Park, N.Y., home preparing for a World Youth Conference.

Height was elected national president of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and volunteered in her 20s for the National Council of Negro Women under her mentor, Mary McLeod Bethune.

By 1957, she became head of the organization and created the National Black Family Reunion, attended by thousands since 1986 on the National Mall. She led the council to be the only historic black group with a home on Washington's symbolic Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and White House.

She stepped down in 1997, but the building still bears her name. Friends raised $5 million in 2002 to pay off the mortgage.

In a soon-to-be-published book, "Living With Purpose," Height left some advice. She writes that people should look at the world as it is becoming, rather than as it has been.

"We have to gain a recognition not only that no one stands alone, but on a positive side, that we also need each other," she wrote. "In the long run, it is how we relate to each other and how well we work together that will make the deciding difference."


1 comment:


    Not one day in anyone’s life is an uneventful day, no day without profound meaning, no matter how dull and boring it might seem, no matter whether you are a seamstress or a queen, a shoeshine boy or a movie star, a renowned philosopher or a Down’s syndrome child.

    Because in every day of your life, there are opportunities to perform little kindnesses for others, both by conscious acts of will and unconscious example.

    Each smallest act of kindness – even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile – reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away.

    Likewise, each small meanness, each thoughtless expression of hatred, each envious and bitter act, regardless of how petty, can inspire others, and is therefore the seed that ultimately produces evil fruit, poisoning people whom you have never met and never will.

    All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined – those dead, those living, those generations yet to come – that the fate of all is the fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every pair of hands.

    Therefore, after every failure, we are obliged to strive again for success, and when faced with the end of one thing, we must build something new and better in the ashes, just as from pain and grief, we must weave hope, for each of us is a thread critical to the strength – the very survival – of the human tapestry.

    Every hour in every life contains such often-unrecognized potential to affect the world that the great days for which we, in our dissatisfaction, so often yearn are already with us; all great days and thrilling possibilities are combined always in THIS MOMENTOUS DAY! – Rev. H.R. White

    Excerpt from Dean Koontz’s book, “From the Corner of His Eye”.

    It embodies the idea of how the smallest of acts can have such a profound effect on each of our lives. Go with God, until we see you again, Dorothy Height thank you.