Dr. Dorothy Irene Height (March 24 1912 - April 20 2010) was a world-renowned social rights, civil rights, and women's rights activist. She was born in Richmond Virginia and died at Howard University Hospital in Washington DC. Dr. Height grew up near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania; she never married and had no children.
She graduated with degrees from from New York University after being denied admission to Barnard College because the college "already had its quota of two black students". Dr. Height completed her post-graduate work at Columbia University and New York University.
For forty years, Dr. Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW); she was also a past national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for ten years. In the 1960s, Dr. Height also worked with the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) to become involved in the civil rights movement and integrate all areas of the YWCA organization.
Dr. Height, known affectionately as the "Queen of the Civil Rights Movement", was one of the few women who participated at the highest levels of the civil rights movement; appearing at the podium with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington. Dr. Height was also on the podium on January 20 2009 at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. One of her favorite quotes was: "If the time is not ripe, we have to ripen the time."
Dr. Height was known for her large and beautiful hats, which she wore at all appearances; they were coordinated with her always exquisite and perfectly tailored suits. She often also wore matching gloves. She traveled around the globe and worked in several countries; including India, Haiti, and England. To help combat the negative stereotypes of Black families, she found the annual "Black Family Reunion" in 1986, a national festival held simultaneously in cities around America and the world.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton presented Dr. Height with the Medal of Freedom. Although retired from the NCNW, she remained chair and president emerita until her death.