August 8, 1994 Dorothy Irene Height received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President William Clinton. Height was born March 24, 1912 in Richmond, Virginia. While in high school, Height was awarded a scholarship to Barnard College but when she enrolled she was denied admittance because at that time Barnard only admitted two African Americans per academic year and they had already admitted two. Height then pursued studies at New York University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in psychology in 1932 and 1933, respectively. Height started working as a case worker with the New York City Welfare Department and in 1944 joined the national staff of the YWCA. From 1946 to 1957, she also served as the national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. In 1957, Height was named president of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she held until 1997. Height served on numerous presidential committees, including the President’s Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped and the President’s Committee on the Status of Women. In 1974, Height was named to the National Council for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, established in response to the “Tuskegee Syphillis Study”. Height also served as chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. She received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1989, the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 1993, and the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush in 2004. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. Height died April 20, 2010. She published her autobiography, “Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir”, in 2005.
(Source: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History) #NBUF