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The Legacy

Dorothy I. Height

Submitted by Carolynn Martin Former President View Park Section NCNW Southern California Area


Early on April 20, 2010 Dr. Dorothy I. Height passed from this world. She was 98 years old with a brilliantly clear mind. We consider her African American Royalty – Dr. Height exemplified all that is encompassed in the description of Royalty. She was a Queen and certainly the crowned head of the National Council of Negro Women Inc., and all the affiliated organizations.


Dr. Height as head of the National Council of Negro Women Inc. (NCNW) was a true leader, mentor, instructor, business woman extraordinaire, and an inspiration to over 4 million members. She showed by example the importance of having the ability to play more that one role in the empowerment of our families and communities. She was known by her signature hats and her stylish dress.


Dr. Dorothy Irene Height was born in Richmond on March 24, 1912, and she grew up in Rankin, Pa., near Pittsburgh, where she attended racially integrated schools. But she felt the lash of racial bigotry early in her life. A music teacher in her mostly white elementary school appointed her student director of the school chorus, but a new principal forbade her to take that position. According to documentation the class refused to stand and sing until Ms. Height was allowed to lead. She earned a bachelor's and master's degrees from New York University and did postgraduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work. It is reported she was turned away by Barnard College because it already had its quota of two black women. Height served as national president of sorority Delta Sigma Theta from 1947 to 1956. Over the years she has earned many awards including the Congressional Medal of Honor.


In 1937, while she was working at the Harlem YWCA, Height met famed educator Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of the National Council of Negro Women and Bethune-Cookman College in Florida. Dr. Height soon joined Dr. Bethune in Washington D.C. to help build the infrastructure of NCNW. Dr. Height became the 5th Executive Director of our organization. Dr. Dr. Height was known for having the uncanny knack for identifying nebulous potential in the people she encountered and assigned those to task to enhance and develop leadership. In December many members of NCNW attended our National Convention, those who never met her will forever have an everlasting memory of the women who was bigger than life. She embraced national icons as well as the youngest convention delegates. The theme for the past convention was "Harnessing Intergenerational Power." throughout the convention she reminded the delegates to build on the power of our youth. Dr. Height believed as Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, "No One Should Be Left Behind."

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