A Civil Rights Leader: Dorothy Height

By OBOS — April 20, 2010

From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011

Entrant: Shailey Smith

Nominee: Dorothy Height

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dorothy Height. I immediately felt the need to so something, so I am nominating her as my health hero.

Dorothy was an extraordinary woman who fought for racial equality through seven decades of this country’s history.

When people think of civil rights leaders, people like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and W. E. B. Du Bois easily come to mind. But Dorothy was a constant presence in the movement and often the only woman in meetings that included the easily recognized male leaders. Yet she didn’t care because she was determined that the needs of women and children were not lost in the daily struggle. She took that task upon her shoulders to make sure their needs were heard. Dorothy did this until her death at 98.

When I read Ms. Height’s obituary this morning, it was the the final quote that inspired me the most:

“We African American women seldom do just what we want to do, but always do what we have to do. I am grateful to have been in a time and place where I could be a part of what was needed.”

I’m grateful you were part of what was needed, Ms. Height. Thank you for shaping the world I live in.

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