A True Leader: RIP Dorothy Irene Height

I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch for justice and freedom...I want to be remembered as one who tried. ~Soror Dorothy Irene Height (March 24, 1912 - April 20, 2010)

I woke up early this morning to begin on today's post and as I was going through the regular routine of checking email and now adding twitter to that, I was alarmed by some news. One of the women that I look up to most as a leader and inspiration has passed this morning: Dorothy Irene Height. For those who may not be familiar Dorothy I. Height, born March 24, 1912, was an extraordinary leader - the epitome of the word, social activist and educator; who dedicated her life and leadership to the struggle for equality and human rights. In the face of adversity, Height never allowed herself to be deterred from her dreams and aspirations and that determination has made one of the largest impacts and contribution to human rights that the world has ever known.

Born in Richmond, VA and raised in Rankin, PA; Dorothy Height received a scholarship to attend Barnard College in New York City based on her oratory skills. Upon arrival, however, she was denied admission due to Barnard's maxed quota of 2 African American women per academic year. Height arrived to the school after the first 2 women had already been admitted. Height did not allow that roadblock to stop her from pursuing what she knew was right and valued at her core: education. She ultimately pursued her education at New York University, receiving both her bachelors and Masters degrees, and completed postgraduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work.

Height is known for her dedication and exemplary leadership of a number of organizations: United Christian Youth Movement of North America, National Council for Negro Women - where she was invited for membership by Mary McLeod Bethune in 1937 and served as their 4th National President, YWCA - where for 33 years she served on their National Board, and near and dear to my heart Height served as the 10th National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. - carrying the Sisterhood to a new level of organizational development and social action under her leadership - and please know this list really pales in comparison to the real impact of Height's leadership and contribution to the world.

Growing up, I remember always saying "I want to be somebody." No specifics, no real direction, just confidence that I wanted to make it out of the hood and do something positive. I first really came to awareness of Dorothy I. Height during my first year of college and was immediately inspired by her story and the impact she had made with her life. She further inspired me to form what impact I wanted to make with my own life. During my college career I pursued membership into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and had the opportunity to meet my Soror Height in 2004. There is no real way to describe how I am feeling this morning as I reflect on the news of her passing, but I take this news as a source of motivation to not only remember and cherish her legacy, but to also be apart of those carrying it on, to continually fight for what's right and to make sure I have IMPACT. Thank you Dorothy Irene Height for your contributions, for your impact, for your unwavering spirit and determination. As a young Black woman today, who is living her dreams, I know that is only because it was your dream FIRST and you led a struggle to ensure that I would be afforded opportunities beyond what I could even expect. You not only tried, you DID and for that I am forever grateful.


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