The Passing of Two Civil Rights Icons

Dorothy Irene Height, who President Obama called the “godmother of the civil rights movement,” passed away last Tuesday at Howard University Hospital. She was 98 years old.

For 40 years Height served as president of the National Council of Negro Women. In that position she lobbied presidents and lawmakers to push for equal opportunity for all Americans.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Height was raised near Pittsburgh. She was accepted to Barnard College but was denied admission because the college had already enrolled its quota of two African Americans. She went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree at New York University.

Benjamin Hooks, the longtime leader of the NAACP, died in Memphis on April 15. Hooks chaired the NAACP from 1976 to 1992.

A graduate of Howard University and the DePaul University School of Law, Hooks was also an ordained minister.

He was the first black criminal court judge in the state of Tennessee and in 1972 became the first black member of the Federal Communications Commission.