It is said of Dorothy Height that her lifetime of achievement measured the liberation of Black America, the advance of women’s rights and a determined effort to lift the poor and the powerless.
Height began her career as a staff member of the YWCA in New York City, becoming director of the Center for Racial Justice. She became a volunteer with the National Council of Negro Women when she worked with NCNW founder Mary McLeod Bethune. When Bethune died, Height became president, a position she held for forty years.
NCNW, an organization of national organizations and community sections with outreach to four million women, developed model national and international community-based programs, sent scores of women to help in the Freedom Schools of the civil rights movement, and spearheaded voter registration drives. Height’s collaborative leadership style brought together people of different cultures for mutual benefit. Her belief in the importance of strong families became the primary energy behind the Black Family Reunion Celebration. She was awarded, among others, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Gold Medal, Presidential Citizen’s Medal, and the Jefferson Award for Public Service.