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Civil & Women's Rights Hero Dorothy Height Dies

Civil & Women's Rights Hero Dorothy Height Dies


Women's rights and civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height, who was a central figure in gaining parity in voting rights, employment opportunities, and later, AIDS programs, died Tuesday. She was 98.

Height, marched, demonstrated, and strategized for equality with the men who were very well known for their contributions to the Civil Rights movement: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young. The New York Times says that among this "Big Six," as they were known, she was "an unheralded seventh."

According to reporter Karen Ocamb, Height also supported LGBT rights. In 1996 she lobbied Congress with then-Human Rights Campaign head Elizabeth Birch to get the first vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Just three decades earlier, Height was present at President John F. Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act, a landmark employment policy for women.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's executive director, Rea Carey, and deputy executive director, Darlene Nipper, relayed their sadness in a press release on Tuesday.

"A huge part of Dorothy Height's legacy will be the grace with which she directed her power for the good of all people," Nipper said. "As an African-American woman in the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, I am so honored to have met her, witnessed her leadership and benefited from her extraordinary sacrifices."

Said Sharon J. Lettman, executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition: "She took that quantum leap into eternity and we will be grateful to her forever. Instead of enumerating the 20 honorary degrees she received, including those from Princeton and Harvard, and her outstanding list of accomplishments that encompass and champion the history of progress in the 20th century until her final moment, we will pause to acknowledge the legend who wanted to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch to work for justice and freedom."

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