“Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.”
The woman who spoke those words, knew very intimately what the word ‘service’ meant, it not only defined her life’s work but it helped her shape and influence a movement for gender and racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. As recognition for her over half a century of dedication towards the growth and development of equality for all walks of life, the Postal Service™ has selected Dorothy Height to be the face of the 40th stamp in the Black Heritage® series.
“The Dorothy Height Forever stamp will serve as a lasting tribute to her life and legacy of seeking equality and justice for all Americans, regardless of ethnicity, gender or race,” said Ronald Stroman, Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Government Relations Officer, who dedicated the stamp.
The stamp designed by art director Derry Noyes, features the painting of artist Thomas Blackshear II’s, which is based off a 2009 photo taken by Lateef Magnum. It depicts a portrait of Height in one of her signature hats and brilliant smiles.
Dorothy Height’s Legacy of Service
Height was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1912, and attended public school in Rankin, Pa. She started her work towards equality at a young age volunteering for various voting equality campaigns. She was also extremely studious and went on to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at New York University.
Height took her degree and began her work with the Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A) where she would devote 40 years into various projects assisting women such as wage equality.
Height later also became President of the National Council of Negro Women, under the mentorship of Mary McLeod Bethune.
She also nationally represented the Delta Sigma Theta sorority for almost 10 years.
One of Dorothy’s most pivotal moments was being the only woman standing on the platform with Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington, after investing much time and dedication working with King and others to organize and lead the march. She led the NCNW to join with the United Civil Rights Leadership in order to open the doors for a broad scope of voices to be heard. It was Height who pushed to include a voice of youth like John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and insisted on no time limits for King’s speech.
Height received numerous honorary degrees over the years, including one from Barnard college, the school she was originally accepted into and then later denied enrollment due to her race. In addition, Height received the nation’s two highest civilian honors. In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A decade later, President George W. Bush presented her with the Congressional Gold Medal. In 2009, she was a guest of Barack Obama when he was sworn in as the nation’s 44th president.
Obama referred to her as the “Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement.” He noted in his Eulogy at her funeral in 2010 that Dorothy even at the age of 98 did not slow down her ‘service’ and had in fact visited his office alone twenty-one times.
As Dorothy stated, “Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.” There is no doubting her greatness was abundant.
Black Heritage Series Postage Stamp
The Dorothy Height stamp, available at The Postal Store®, is being issued as a Forever stamp, which will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® 1-ounce price. The public is asked to share the news of the stamp using the hashtags #DorothyHeightForever and #BlackHeritageStamps.
Author: Kristine Uppal
Copyright © 2012 - Dorothy Irene Height Education Foundation