Obama delivers heartfelt eulogy at Dorothy Height funeral

The sanctuary at Washington National Cathedral

The Dorothy Height funeral was held at Washington National Cathedral, where President Barack Obama honored the civil rights icon with a heartfelt eulogy. Flickr photo.

At the Dorothy Height funeral in Washington D.C. Thursday, President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy. Before he spoke at the service held in the Washington National Cathedral, he issued an executive order directing that the American flag fly at half staff on land and at sea worldwide. The Dorothy Height biography establishes her as the leading female voice of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Dorothy Height’s civil rights activism continued well into her 90s and took part in discussions about health care at the White House until late last year. She had been at Howard University Hospital. Dorothy Height died April 20. She was 98.

At the Dorothy Height funeral

At the Dorothy Height funeral at Washington National Cathedral, President Obama lightened the reverent mood with what the New York Times reports as a fondly humorous portrait of the feisty Ms. Height that often drew laughter from the audience. Obama noted that Height made 21 visits to the White House since his inauguration. “We did come to know her during the early days of my campaign, and we came to love her as so many loved her,” the president said. “We loved her stories, and her smile and those hats.” Dorothy Height’s trademark look was a collection of big, brightly colored hats that she coordinated with her outfits.

Dorothy Height’s last presidential honor

Obama’s heartfelt eulogy at the Dorothy Height funeral and executive flag order aren’t the first time Dorothy Height’s civil rights devotion has been honored by the President of the United States. Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994. George W. Bush awarded Height Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.The Associated Press reports that when Bush awarded her the medal, he said that Height had met with every U.S. president since Eisenhower, and “she’s told every president what she thinks since Dwight David Eisenhower.”

Dorothy Height biography

The Dorothy Height biography includes marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr. She 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 March on Washington in 1963. Dorothy Height’s civil rights activism was underscored by her leadership of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, from 1957 to 1997. Height spearheaded programs to help poor rural families raise their own livestock and worked to ease racial tensions with a program called “Wednesdays in Mississippi,” in which black and white women from the north traveled to meet with their Southern counterparts.

Dorothy Height’s legacy

In coverage of the Dorothy Height funeral, the New York Times noted that Height was considered by historians and civil rights activists as one of the last links to the social activism of the New Deal era of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her career spanned most of one century and part of another, in which she witnessed events ranging from anti-lynching protests to the inauguration of President Obama. When Obama won the election, Height told Washington TV station WTTG that she was overwhelmed with emotion.

“People ask me, did I ever dream it would happen, and I said, if you didn’t have the dream, you couldn’t have worked on it,” she said.

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