Remembering Dr. Dorothy Irene Height Commemorating the 102nd Birthday of NCNW's President Emerita
MARCH 24, 2014
Dear NCNW Family!
March is Women's History Month, and there is no better opportunity than today to honor one of our own by commemorating the birthday of the late Dr. Dorothy Irene Height. Today, we proudly celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Dorothy I. Height, the National Council of Negro Women's (NCNW) fourth National President. In 1957, Dr. Height served as NCNW's National President until 1998 when she became President Emerita. Our beloved visionary left a rich legacy with over forty years of service to NCNW, laser- focused on improving and advancing the civil rights and opportunities for women of African descent.
Dr. Height was born on this day, March 24, in Richmond, Virginia in the year 1912. She attended New York University, earning a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in educational psychology by 1933. Height also pursued post graduate degrees at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work.
She started working as a caseworker with the New York City Welfare Department and joined the staff of the Harlem YWCA in 1937. Shortly thereafter, Height met the Founder of NCNW, Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune, and the First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, when they came to visit the YWCA. Mrs. Bethune took notice of Height and would later become her mentor, encouraging her to volunteer at NCNW.
Height also served as National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority from 1946 to 1957, just before assuming her position at NCNW. During her tenure, Dr. Height developed model national and community-based programs, poised the organization to tackle issue-oriented politics and established the Black Family Reunion, to name a few of her accomplishments.
During the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, she played a leadership role as a staunch activist, working closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to collaborate on strategy for the movement. Height also organized "Wednesdays in Mississippi",which brought together black and white women from the North and South to create a dialogue of understanding. Dr. Height was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
Throughout her career, Dr. Height was a well-respected program administrator and educator, developing leadership programs for young women across all of the organizations that she led. NCNW continues its focus on educational programming, working closely with our NCNW Collegiate Sections. It is through these relationships that we continue to mentor and train a new generation of women leaders.
On this very special day, I ask that you take a moment to share the story of an incredible woman who changed all of our lives for the better. To NCNW, she was much more than our President; she was a timeless fountain of wisdom, strength and unconditional love. On April 20, 2010, Dr. Height left this world at the beautiful age of ninety-eight.
In her own words, Dr. Height said, "I have dedicated my life in service to others - especially women and children - who are less fortunate and who need a voice. I have tried to be that voice. There is still a great need for people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Who will step into the breach and assume the legacy? When I look to the future, I am pleased to note that there are fine young people, waiting in the wings, eager to take up the mantle of service. We, the older generation, have a duty to teach our young that there is a 'greater good.' We can no longer give the impression that it is all about themselves. Moreover, they must be taught Godly principles - the first of which is to serve."
In celebration and service,
Ingrid Saunders Jones
National Chair, NCNW
Chair's Message on the State of the Organization 2013