This month we celebrate inspirational and influential women. This year Women’s History Month is dedicated to trailblazing women in labor and business, and the honorees are recognized for challenging cultural, structural and legal forms of discrimination against women and girls. The 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, and the Equal Pay Act were both crucial steps to achieve gender equality in the workforce, and ambitious women are still working towards that goal today!
This month, we’re spotlighting one woman each week who has changed society with her ambition and passion. Last week we featured Patsy Mink, the first woman of color elected to the US House of Representatives. This week we introduce Dorothy Height.
Dorothy Height (1912-2010)
As president of the National Council of Negro Women, Height addressed the rights of both women and African Americans. She led multiple causes in the war against drugs, illiteracy, and unemployment. She received various honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Beginning in high school, Dorothy Height was politically aware and active, participating in many anti-lynching campaigns and giving various civil rights speeches. Because of her skills in public speaking, Height went on to compete in the national oratory competition and was eventually awarded a college scholarship.
Height first applied to Barnard College in New York, but the college changed their mind about her admittance, saying that they had already reached their quota for African American students! However, Height persisted and made her way to New York University.
After college, Height became an avid activist, working closely with the founder of the National Council of Negro Women, Mary McLeod Bethune. In addition, she fought for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young.
As a member of the Harlem YWCA, Height played a crucial role in integrating all of its centers in 1946. She also established the YWCA Center for Racial Justice in 1965, and in 1957, she became the president of the National Council of Negro Women.
Take a moment to recognize the women in your life, today and everyday! Celebrate women's history every day with timeless folktales for our Women’s History Month reading list.