Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 24th "Dorothy Irene Height Day" in Virginia

Dorothy Irene Height (March 24, 1912 – April 20, 2010 was an American administrator, educator, and social activist. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell has issued a proclamation marking March 24th as "Dorothy Irene Height Day" in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dorothy Height, who passed away last year, was a native of Virginia and a leading female Civil Rights leader of her time.

WHEREAS, Dorothy Irene Height, was born on March 24, 1912 to James Edward and Fannie Burroughs Height in Richmond, Virginia; lived in South Richmond as a child; died on April 20, 2010 in Washington, DC at the age of 98; and she continues to live in the hearts and minds of the people of our Commonwealth, these United States and the world; and

WHEREAS, determined and unwavering, Dorothy Irene Height, earned Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from New York University in 1933; participated in post-graduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work; later received 36 honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities across the country, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Howard University, and Morehouse and Spelman Colleges; and her many achievements were recognized and honored by the University of Virginia's Explorations in Black Leadership project; and

Dorothy Irene Height

Portrait of Dr. Dorothy Height taken in June 2008. PHOTO CREDIT: Adrian Hood
WHEREAS, Dorothy Irene Height, a daughter of Virginia, began her nearly seven decade commitment to justice in 1933 by serving as the vice president of the United Christian Youth Movement of North America to fight against the segregated armed forces and the evil act of lynching; and in 1937, joined the National Council of Negro Women, an organization founded by Mary McLeod Bethune, that highlighted education, equal employment, and equal pay, issues that impacted the lives of all women across our Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, often noted as the founding matriarch or godmother of the Civil Rights Movement, Dorothy Irene Height, an unsung heroine, was a compelling advocate for women and children during the 1950s and 1960s, working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney H. Young, A. Philip Randolph, James Farmer, Roy Wilkins, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, and several others to masterfully advance racial and gender equality across our country;
was an associate of Virginia's civil rights trailblazer Oliver W. Hill and supported the struggle to desegregate schools in Virginia and America; advised each U.S. president from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to President Barack H. Obama on issues of social justice, education, and socioeconomics; and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President William J. Clinton in 1994 and presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush in 2004; and

WHEREAS, Dorothy Irene Height, who always exuded grace and poise in her grand hats, keenly dedicated her life to the betterment of African-American women and girls as she worked on the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association from 1944 to 1977, led as vice president and later president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. from 1944 to 1956, and served as the national president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, from 1957 until 1998, when she became the Council's chair and president emerita; and founded the Black Family Reunion Celebration, which has welcomed Virginians to its programs and events since 1986; and

WHEREAS, Virginia is today a fairer and more just state because of the extraordinary life of Dorothy Height;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize March 24, 2011 as DOROTHY IRENE HEIGHT DAY in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.

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Contact: Jeff Caldwell Press Secretary (804) 786-2211

TEXT RESOURCE: Dorothy Height

TEXT CREDIT: Office of the Governor Robert F. McDonne

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