Civil Rights pioneer Dr. Dorothy Height can finally rest as she moves on to glory. She has duly been credited for her participation in establishing that legislation but she has also been a fierce advocate for women and children. As the Chair of the National Council of Negro Womenn and after sitting on the board of the YWCA her influence can been felt by many even if they are not aware of its impact.
It is more important than ever that we get oral history projects and video interviews of our elders to discuss how the navigated much harsher times but still thrived. We also need a record of the efforts of these women (Heights, Ella Baker and many others) because as we all know certain males have commandeered the credit based on the efforts of many unsung African-American heroines.
It is also a day for activism to secure the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. Black women are the largest group of head of household of all other collectives in the US and earn 58 cents on the dollar. Considering how white women as a group have received the most benefit from the passage of Equal Opportunity Laws, which was a direct result of Civil Rights it is imperative that black women and their allies shift focus to stemming any more losses. That requires women to look out for their self-interest more than being self-sacrificing.
P.S. The musician Guru has also passed and while I give hip-hop the side eye for its rampant racialized misogyny targeting black women he released the stellar Jazzmatazz series. If we’re going to think about legacies and generational contributions those collaborations merging such talented individuals deserves acknowledgement.
Read my previous post: Let’s Not Forget the Black Women Who Defined The Civil Rights Movement.