It is with a heavy heart that I’m writing this blog this morning. I was awakened by phone calls, text messages and BBMs to inform me of the passing of Dr. Dorothy Irene Height.
Dr. Height is most known by the general public for her 40 year position as President of the National Council of Negro Women. She is also known to my Sorors as the 10th National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, a position she held from 1947-1956.
It was just a month ago that I remember singing Happy Birthday to her along with those attending the Greater Washington Urban League’s Annual Whitney M. Young Gala. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a very emotional person but I almost shed a tear while singing as I thought about how she had lived so long and had done so much for our community through her work in the Civil Rights era and beyond.
A week after that joyous celebration, on March 24 her actual 98th birthday, I was saddened to hear she had been hospitalized. I immediately called my Aunt who lives in the same building with Dr. Height and is friends with her long-time assistant to get the inside scoop. She told me she hadn’t heard anything but that it wasn’t looking good. Later I found out she had been sworn the secrecy and was not able to tell me the severity of Dr. Height’s condition.
Several years ago, before my journey in Delta began, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Height on the 90th anniversary of the founding of Delta Sigma Theta (January 13, 2003). I remember her having a warm spirit and how inviting she was. Since then, I’ve heard her speak on several occasions and have read her memoir Open Wide The Freedom Gate.
Although, I didn’t know her personally, I can say she’s truly made an impact on my life. When I go out and volunteer, I think about how she was able to accomplish so much during her lifetime through the service she’s provided to others, it reminds me that my efforts aren’t in vain. If I can accomplish only a quarter of what she was able to get done, I’ll know my life has been a success.
Most people don’t know that Dr. Height never married nor had any children. Even though she never had any offspring, she has served as a role model to countless women around the globe. With that said, Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, you will truly be missed and I will always remember you as a women who wore many hats, both literally and figuratively. AOML