Civil Rights Leader Dorothy Height Remembered

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President Barack Obama issued a call to service as a way for Americans to honor civil rights leader Dorothy Height.

In the beauty and majesty of Washington's National Cathedral, hundreds came to celebrate her life and pay their final respects. Height died April 20 after decades of fighting for racial and gender equality.

The service was a homegoing filled with songs and a reading from her favorite Psalm.

"I will thank you because I am marvelously made. Your works are wonderful and I know it well," poet Maya Angelou read.

There were also plenty of personal stories about how the 98-year-old civil rights leader touched so many lives.

"She searched for, in her own words, a common ground to solve problems," friend Camille Cosby said. "And, yes, she dressed in beautiful colors in her trademark hats no matter where she was."

Obama described Height as a dignified, persistent fighter, calling her "the Queen Esther of the Moses generation" in the male-dominated civil rights movement.

The president shared a story about how she insisted on making her way through a blizzard to attend a White House meeting on employment with African-American leaders.

"Nevermind that she was in a wheelchair," Obama said. "She was not about to let just a bunch of men in this meeting."

Height's legacy includes de-segregating the YWCA, leading the National Council of Negro Women and marching with the Rev. Martin Luther King.

She is a pioneer now laid to rest, but whose work and influence still shines brightly.

*Originally published April 30, 2010.

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John Jessup

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