April 27, 2010

Lessons in Tenacity, Hope and Change

Civil rights leader Dorothy Irene Height will be laid to rest following funeral services at the National Cathedral on Thursday. Pictured above on the left Dr. Height, 98 lived a long life and worked hard for racial justice and gender equality in America.  Her memoir Open Wide the Gates of Freedom begins with this phrase:
“Mighty women have been with and for us from the beginning of time.  This is patently true or as a species we would have become extinct centuries before we learned how to use fire or store water.”
During the 1964 Freedom Summer Dr. Height worked to organize “Wednesdays in Mississippi” by mobilizing women across the nation to engage in dialogue about their fears of and hopes for change. A stalwart activist and politician, she continued serving in many leadership roles including President of the National Council of Negro Women and President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  Dr. Height collaborated with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on human and civil rights, President Eisenhower on public school desegregation and President Johnson to appoint African American women to cabinet leadership roles in government.  Her work has been honored by President Bush, President Clinton and President Obama.  Do you get the gist of her purpose and labor in this life?  Dr. Height’s work spans half a century, she continued worked long days burning midnight oil well into her eighties.  Progress takes time and change is hard work.
A global thinker and mobilzer, Dr. Height offers a blueprint for living with purpose in our lives.  We must continue to take on civil and human rights and through her legacy knowing that tenacity and hope remain at the root of progress.  Above, on the right is a picture of Katie Washington she just became the first African-American woman to be named valedictorian at University of Notre Dame.  From a close-knit nurturing family in Gary, Indiana Katie’s story is starts like Dorothy’s one of humble beginnings.  Dr. Height’s efforts have opened new doors and Miss Washington has worked to make these opportunities her reality. She’s headed to Johns Hopkins School Medicine and will go on to become a physician-scientist making progress in medicine and beyond.  
Share this story with young people in your life.

 "I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch to work for justice and freedom.... I want to be remembered as one who tried." Dr. Dorothy Height #quote via Bishop Vashti McKenzie

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