Task Force mourns death of Dorothy Height

April 20, 2010

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592

WASHINGTON, April 20 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the death of Dr. Dorothy Height, a civil rights pioneer, who died today at the age of 98. Height was a key figure in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities and public accommodations in the 1950s and 1960s. She was president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years.

Height lobbied First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on behalf of civil rights causes in the 1940s. In the 1950s, she insisted President Eisenhower move more aggressively on school desegregation issues. Height was among those invited to the White House to witness President Kennedy’s signing ceremony of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. In 1994, President Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2004, Height also received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest decoration Congress can bestow.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"Today we deeply mourn the loss of Dorothy Height, who staunchly stood for the civil rights of all people. Dr. Height was a hero to many by devoting her life to those struggling for equality. We are in awe of her crusade for racial justice and gender equality that spanned more than six decades. She was a champion of social justice, a champion of women's rights, a champion of civil rights. Her legacy is profound and everlasting. To have met her was an honor. To speak with her, a joy. And, to have been inspired by her, a gift."

Statement by Darlene Nipper, Deputy Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"A huge part of Dorothy Height's legacy will be the grace with which she directed her power for the good of all people. As an African-American woman in the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, I am so honored to have met her, witnessed her leadership and benefited from her extraordinary sacrifices."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.