Civil Rights Legend Receives Congressional Gold Medal

Civil rights legend Dr Dorothy Height was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony at the US Capitol yesterday. Dr. Height accepted the award “on behalf of the millions of people, particularly women, whose work goes unnoticed.” Dr. Height was at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, when she was the only woman to work with the “Big Six” civil rights leaders, a group that included Martin Luther King, Jr.

Called the “grand dame of the civil rights movement” by Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), who wrote the legislation for the Award, Dr. Height has worked for 70 years towards racial and gender equality, according to the Washington Post. Height served for more than 30 years as the president of the National Council of Negro Women and held leadership positions at the YWCA, where she pushed for racial inclusiveness.

“Dorothy Height is not only a champion of the civil rights movement but also the women’s rights movement,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “We have worked on many projects together. True to form, Dorothy Height has endorsed and is working for the March for Women’s Lives on Sunday, April 25.”

Even as she celebrated her 92nd birthday at the awards ceremony, Dr. Height vowed to continue to speak out on civil and women’s rights issues. “This award É gives me renewed faith and renewed sense of urgency for the work yet to be done,” she said, according to Voice of America. Of the some 300 people who have received the Congressional Gold Medal since it was established in 1776, only 13 have been women.


Washington Post 3/25/04; Voice of America 3/25/04

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