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Dorothy Irene Height

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Dorothy Irene Height, THERE IT SITS, the gleaming portrait of Dorothy Height looming radiant and elegant and true, and yet it cannot touch the handiwork of the subject herself. Because Dorothy Height, as the original artist of a highly influential life, rendered the most beautiful cultural through-line of all.

What, for the better part of an American century, did her life not touch — in the name of civil rights and women’s rights and family support and freedoms? So often, when leadership or stewardship or just plain social “glue” was needed to buoy the movements she believed in, Dorothy Height was there.

When first lady Eleanor Roosevelt needed to be lobbied on behalf of civil rights during Harlem protests, she, young Dorothy Height the YWCA worker, was there.

When President Eisenhower needed to be urged to act on school desegregation, she, as a voice of persuasion and firsthand experience, was there.

When the Rev. Martin Luther King spoke before the Lincoln Memorial at the 1963 March on Washington, she, standing right on the platform of history, was there.

Dorothy Irene Height