A Mother In the Civil Rights Movement


Dorothy Height was a civil rights and women's rights activist focused primarily on improving the circumstances of and opportunities for African American women.


Dorothy Height was a leader in addressing the rights of both women and African Americans as the president of the National Council of Negro Women. In the 1990s, she drew young people into her cause in the war against drugs, illiteracy, and unemployment. The numerous honors bestowed upon her include the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2004).


After working for a time as a social worker, Height joined the staff of the Harlem YWCA in 1937. One of Height's major accomplishments at the YWCA was directing the integration of all of its centers in 1946. She also established its Center for Racial Justice in 1965, which she ran until 1977. In 1957, Height became the president of the National Council of Negro Women. Through the center and the council, she became one of the leading figures of the civil rights movement. Height worked with Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, John Lewis and James Farmer — sometimes called the "Big Six" of the civil rights movement — on different campaigns and initiatives.

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