By Randy Singleton
Community Affairs Correspondent
New Journal and Guide
A state historical marker honoring the achievements of Dorothy Height was unveiled Sunday (March 24) in front of the Hull Street Branch Library after a public ceremony at First Baptist Church South Richmond and a parade. Greetings were given by Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.
A marker by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was also unveiled. The Delta-sponsored plaque recalls Height’s tenure and achievements as the 10th national president of the sorority between 1947 and 1956, in addition to her career milestones.
Dorothy Height was born in Richmond in 1912. She died in 2010 at the age of 98. Height, known for her stylish and colorful hats, stood at the forefront of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She was one of the organizers of the March on Washington. In 1994, she was awarded the President Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Bill Clinton. President Barrack Obama called her the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement and gave Height’s eulogy.
The dedication ceremony was sponsored by the Dr. Dorothy I. Height Highway Marker Committee in partnership with the Richmond Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, First Baptist Church of South Richmond, and DHR.
Scheduled speakers during the ceremony included Ellen F. Robertson, Richmond City Council member for District 6; Dr. Colita N. Fairfax, a professor of social work at Norfolk State University and vice-chair of the Virginia Board of Historic Resources; Connie L. Cuffee, president of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Alumnae Chapter; and Senior Pastor Dr. Dwight C. Jones; Preston A. Page, of the Dorothy Height Event Committee.
Text of state historical marker:
Dorothy Height (1912-2010)
Dorothy I. Height, civil rights leader, was born in Richmond and lived in this neighborhood until 1916. For more than 50 years she worked for racial justice and gender equality. Serving on the national staff of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) from 1944 to 1977, Height fostered interracial dialogue and moved the YWCA toward full integration. As president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, she promoted economic development and voting rights and advised United States presidents. She worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was a chief organizer of the March on Washington in 1963. Height was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.