WASHINGTON — Dorothy Height, who as longtime president of the National Council of Negro Women was the leading female voice of the 1960s civil rights movement in the United States, died Tuesday. She was 98.
Height, who continued actively speaking out into her 90s, had been at Howard University Hospital in Washington for some time.
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As a teenager, Height marched in New York’s Times Square shouting, “Stop the lynching.” In the 1950s and 1960s, she was the leading woman helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leading activists orchestrate the civil rights movement.
The late activist C. DeLores Tucker once called Height an icon to all African-American women.
Height was on the platform at the Lincoln Memorial, sitting only a few feet from King when he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech at the civil rights march on Washington in 1963.
“He spoke longer than he was supposed to speak,” Height recalled in a 1997 Associated Press interview. But after he was done, it was clear King’s speech would echo for generations, she said, “because it gripped everybody.”
Height became president of the National Council of Negro Women in 1957 and held the post until 1997, when she was 85. She remained chairman of the group.
“I hope not to work this hard all the rest of my life,” she said. “But whether it is the council, whether it is somewhere else, for the rest of my life, I will be working for equality, for justice, to eliminate racism, to build a better life for our families and our children.”