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I Miss Dorothy Height

By Marcia Greenberger, Co-President,
National Women's Law Center

I sat at the National Cathedral memorial service just over a week ago, moved by the tributes to this extraordinary leader, visionary, and source of inspiration for women and people of color world-wide. One of the lucky ones who had the privilege of working with her and benefiting from her wisdom and determination for many years, I always knew that whenever something momentous happened Dorothy Height would be there to chart the way forward. 

I am writing now as we face so many momentous challenges and opportunities — just as she did for so many decades. There are key pieces of legislation we are fighting to pass — like the Paycheck Fairness Act. It is more than time for the Senate to ratify the international Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women — a cause she first began to champion with Eleanor Roosevelt. And it is essential that forces opposed to the great causes of civil rights and human rights not prevail during the effort to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Dr. Height had already been a national icon in the civil rights and women’s rights movement literally for decades when Justice Stevens was appointed to the Court in 1975.

Now, I wish I could hear what Dorothy Height had to say. I wish I could see the twinkle in her eye, her smile, and the beautiful outfit she inevitably would wear when she gave her views and advice. I wish I could be listening intently to this truly unique woman as she opined on the future of the legal rights that are so central to the future of this country, and that she was so instrumental in securing and safeguarding. 

How lucky for us all that she taught so many lessons on how to make progress, and left such a strong legacy to build on.

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