Dorothy Irene Height

Dorothy Irene Height

March is Women’s History Month. Activists today may be inspired to hear the stories of six historic figures who advocated for women’s voting rights as part of their Christian calling.

Dorothy Irene Height

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Dorothy Height was the only woman, besides Coretta Scott King, on the platform.

When Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s first African-American president more than 45 years later, she was on the platform again.

Height, who considered Mary McLeod Bethune a mentor, helped finish the work earlier voting-rights activists had begun. As president of the National Council of Negro Women, Height helped organize voter registration in the South, voter education in the North and scholarship programs for student civil rights workers.

The “Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement” contributed to the 1964 ratification of the 24th Amendment, which outlawed poll taxes in state and federal elections. Her hard work also helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Dr. Height was the embodiment of leadership in the Wesleyan Way,” said Erin Hawkins, the top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race. “She understood that love of God could not be separated from love of neighbor and that love of neighbor was not simply a feeling but an action.”

Dorothy Irene Height was a Wesleyan woman who helped form a more perfect union even as she was going on to Christian perfection.


Article by Heather Hahn, published by the United Methodist News Service on Nov. 3, 2016.

Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or


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