ESSENCE.com presents a special tribute from notable community leaders including educators, university presidents, writers, activists and others who offer their remembrances of "The Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement,"Dr. Dorothy Irene Height.
A Special Tribute To Dr. Dorothy Irene Height
Poet, Activist and Writer "She was an amazing woman to travel with so full of information that you just sat next to her and opened up your pores to receive the wisdom. What I think is important for people to understand about Dr. Height is that she was an intellect, along with being a woman who got things done. She worked very hard and organized but she did it with intellect. Imagine the meeting between God and Dr. Height when she says all the things that she did on this earth."
Dr. Jane Smith
Former President and CEO of the National Council of Negro Women "Many of us have walked away with our own little jewels of the things that we have learned from Dr. Height. My jewel was to be intentional about everything that you do, plan what you want and watch strategically for that outcome to be what it is you want. She will be greatly missed."
Dr. Julianne Malveaux
President of Bennett College for Women "I mourn her passing, and I know that the nation and the world does as well.Those of us who were especially close to her will miss her wise counsel, her loving spirit, her advocacy, and her incisive public policy acumen.People say that we have lost a woman who lived a full life.I lost a sister that I laughed and had breakfast with day after Christmas, a mischievous woman who once told me that economists should not write poetry, an inspiration and a generous friend."
Benjamin Todd Jealous
NAACP President and CEO "She will be most remembered for what she did to encourage women to reach greater levels of achievement, but the truth is that she also guided and mentored the ambition to service and contributions of thousands of men.Her passion for a just society and her vision for a better world inspires us all."
NAACP Chairman Emeritus "Dr. Height never saw a mountain she could not overcome, from being denied entry to Barnard College to achieving a Master's degree in Psychology at NYU and lobbying President Kennedy to sign the Equal Pay Act in 1963.She was the matriarch of the civil rights movement, and will be greatly missed."
NAACP Chairman Emeritus "I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dr. Dorothy Height.I recall her formidable presence when she spoke during the funeral of my husband Medgar.She spoke earnestly about the civil rights struggle and how the conditions affected young people, especially about their treatment at the hands of law enforcement.Although childless, she was Mother to all of us--she was family."
Marian Wright Edelman
President of the Children's Defense Fund "Dr. Height was a lantern and role model for millions of women and a long haul social change agent blessed with uncommon commitment and talent.Her fingerprints are quietly embedded in many of the transforming events of the last seven decades as Blacks, women, and children pushed open and walked through previously closed doors of opportunity."
U.S. Congresswoman "Dr. Height's legacy will continue in the heart and mind and in the work of all women, especially African American women. She showed us how even up until her last days that the struggle for justice and equality is not complete."
NAACP Chairman of the Board of Directors "When I was initially running for the chairman of the NAACP I went to her. I asked her, 'As a woman with experience working in a male dominated environment how does she handle it? Are there any words or advice that she can give to me?' She said, 'Don't worry about who gets the credit just make sure the work gets done.' These are really words to live by and when you are able to look beyond yourself it makes the work more meaningful and impactful."
Entrepreneur and Philanthropist "She is a true example of class and intelligence. She was generous with her time with others. She to me is an unbelievable role model to both men and women on how they should live their lives. She had a full life, one of stature and one that never gave up. I think we should learn and take the pages out of the history book of Dorothy Height's life."
Managing Editor of "Washington Week" "Dr. Height set an amazing example for how women can take charge. She always, always, stayed calm and had a will of steel. She is a great example that all of us can follow rather we are in the public eye or not. She is a great inspiration."
Dr. Brenda M. Greene
Director of the National Black Writers Conference "I admired her courage for really carrying on the struggle for civil rights in a male dominated area. I admired her ability to model the kind of behavior that's needed to engage in a collective struggle. She embodied that its not about her or what she wanted, but it's about the core of addressing problems of injustice. I think it is important that we leave a legacy and hers is truly a legacy. A legacy that will be remembered in the years to come."
John H. Bracey, Jr.
Professor of Afro-American Studies at University of Massachusetts Amherst "Dr. Height is the coat behind everything that has happened in the Civil Rights movement in the last 50 years."
President and First Lady
"She led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, and served as the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement--witnessing every march and milestone along the way. And even in the final weeks of her life--a time when anyone else would have enjoyed their well-earned rest--Dr. Height continued her fight to make our nation a more open and inclusive place for people of every race, gender, background and faith."
Dr. Dorothy Irene Height
March 24, 1912 to April 20, 2010 "We African American Women seldom do just what we want to do, but always 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." - This is the quote inscribed on Dr. Dorothy Height's Congressional Gold Medal.Related stories: