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Dorothy Irene Height

Height, Dorothy Irene, 1912–2010, American civil-rights leader, b. Richmond, Va., grad. New York Univ. (B.A. 1933, M.A. 1935). A leader of the African-American and women's rights movements, she began a life of activism as a New York City social worker and in the late 1930s became an administrator at the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). There she was a key figure in integrating its facilities, helped bring the exploitation of black domestic workers to public attention, and founded and led (1965–77) its Center for Racial Justice. She also served as the longtime president of the National Council of Negro Women (1957–97). During the 1960s Height facilitated voter registration, campaigned for desegregation, helped organize Martin Luther King's March on Washington (1963), and worked on other civil-rights projects. In the 1990s she emphasized the need for self-help in the black community. An adviser to many presidents on civil-rights issues, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2004).

See her memoir, Open Wide the Freedom Gates (2003).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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