21 April 2010

Passings ~ Dorothy Height (1912-2010)

Dorothy Height on the platform at the Lincoln Memorial
at the March on Washington in 1963 (Photo: AP).

Dorothy Height, a key, if unheralded leader in the American movement for Civil Rights has died. You can find an obituary here in The New York Times.

The key observation from The Times report reads: "If Ms. Height was less well known than her contemporaries in either the civil rights or women’s movement, it was perhaps because she was doubly marginalized, pushed offstage by women’s groups because of her race and by black groups because of her sex. Throughout her career, she responded quietly but firmly, working with a characteristic mix of limitless energy and steely gentility to ally the two movements in the fight for social justice."

Height was hardly the only female civil rights activist to resist this dual exclusion - think of Ella Baker, for instance - and while the movement for civil rights was a crucial one, it is useful to recall its flaws even as we celebrate its accomplishments and keep an eye on its still unattained goals. The same, of course, is true of the women's movement.

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Blogger Jim Johnson said...


This photo accompanied the obit in The Times and also a story on the CBS News site - both identified the woman at right as Height. On npr the claim was that she was the only woman on the platform that day. But the image itself seems to include another woman - smiling at top center.

Hope that helps.


22 April, 2010 11:28  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

The comment to which I just replied reads:

John Hastings has left a new comment on your post "Passings (2)":

regarding the Bissinger photo. Please let me know your source for the attribution of,"the food server Virginia Reed". I can find nothing that buttresses that identification. I thought that figure was Edna Lewis, who was part owner of Cafe' Nicholson. For various and sundry reason this is important.

For some reason it vaporized via Blogger ...

22 April, 2010 11:29  

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