Press Release

AFT Statement On the Passing of Dorothy Height

For Release: 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


George Jackson

Civil and human rights icon Dorothy Height died early this morning at age 98.

Dorothy Height lived a life well spent. There are few people with greater achievements, and today we remember and applaud her dedication to ensuring justice, equal opportunity and simple fairness for all Americans. Dr. Height was a fervent believer in, and a witness to, the need to bring about a more perfect union for all. Her advocacy touched millions, and she, along with the other great leaders she worked with, helped shape the America we live in today. Those who had the privilege of knowing her and working with her are saddened, as we are, by her passing.

Dorothy Height’s history of activism spans more than 70 years and includes working with everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt to Mary McLeod Bethune to Dr. Martin King Jr. to successive occupants of the Oval Office. Her central role in giving form, shape and voice to the civil rights movement led her to join Dr. King on the Washington Monument stage when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. It also led her to many less-rarified venues around the world, where the hard work continued. Her longtime leadership of the National Council of Negro Women inspired generations of women with the spirit of activism.

Dr. Height was a past recipient of the AFT’s Bayard Rustin Human Rights Award, an award named for a man with whom she worked in the struggle for civil rights.

We mourn her passing, but consider ourselves fortunate to have had the opportunity to know, learn from and be inspired by a true icon.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.