Friday, April 23, 2010

The Passing of an Icon

Dr. Dorothy I. Height, in the words of Maya Angelou, was "one of the giants among mighty women." I join millions in mourning the passing of a giant, a woman who set the bar so high that we had to reach to the sky.

Below is one of many tributes written on Dorothy Height:

"Dr. Height worked tirelessly to open doors for people of every race, gender, culture and faith," Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, president and CEO of the Imperative, said. "Her vision was not for a Black America, it was for one America. She climbed over barriers of epic height to achieve equal rights and opportunities for all, particularly for Black children who she understood as being our future."

Many people who honor the life of Dr. Height will remember her as the godmother of the civil rights movement. She was the commanding force who stood on a platform overlooking millions when Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. She was the statuesque female figure who stood steadfast next to Lyndon Johnson when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She was a trusted counselor who advised every U.S. president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama on matters of social justice, racial and gender equality and human rights. Her contributions to the civil rights movement are undeniable.

But, to Hinton Hoytt and other Black women leaders, she was the mother of the Black feminist movement.

"When she stood next to Dr. King and President Johnson during those historic moments, she stood not only as an embodiment of civil rights but of women's rights too. I think when she realized early on that being Black and female put you in a special category; she took on another fight - one for the empowerment of Black women."

In a recent meeting on health care reform and immigration, Hinton Hoytt, who knew Dr. Height as her mentor, confidante and friend, witnessed a profound moment: "Dr. Height looked each of us in the eye and declared, 'Until all women have all of their rights, no one woman can have equal rights.' As the president of the National Council of Negro Women, Dr. Height pushed Black women to take advantage of every opportunity that showed America that they deserved better and were capable of achieving better."

Her wisdom, fearlessness to speak the unspeakable and courage to stand steadfast is what made Dr. Dorothy I. Height not only a legend but a crusader of civil and women's rights equally.

Dr. Height once said, "I want to be remembered as one who tried." On this day that marks the passing of one of the most resounding voices for gender and racial equality, social justice, and human rights, the Imperative wants to thank Dr. Height for doing more than trying. We thank her for uplifting and making the voices of Black women heard.

Q. What do you want to be remembered for?

Blessings! Rev. Qiyamah