Women’s Rights Not Worth Mentioning?

Ms. Behaved

NEWS From Yesterday’s Washington Post
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The undaunted Dorothy Height

UPON HER DEATH Tuesday, Dorothy I. Height was hailed a hero, the grande dame of the civil rights movement, an icon. She was all of those things. Yet somehow words fail to capture what was so remarkable about this woman who fought for so long, and with such tenacity, dignity and resolve, for racial justice and gender equality. Because she lived such a full life, an entire generation grew up knowing her without fully understanding the entrenched unfairness she fought against and helped to lessen. To appreciate Dorothy Height is to understand the slights she endured and the obstacles she encountered both as an African American and as a woman, and how they only spurred her life-long campaign for justice.

Ms. Height died at the age of 98 on Tuesday morning at Howard University Hospital. President Obama eulogized her as “the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement and a hero to so many Americans.” Her activism dates to the 1930s, and she played an influential, if largely unsung role, in the civil rights movement that transformed America in the 1950s and 1960s. Even though she presided over the National Council of Negro Women, a group she would head for 40 years until 1997, Ms. Height and her work often went unnoticed and unpraised. She was seated on the platform with Martin Luther King Jr. when he delivered his “I have a dream speech” at the Lincoln Memorial, but she would later express dismay that no one gave voice to women’s rights.

Such experiences enabled her to see the injustices against women and African Americans as part of the same set of American problems that needed to be addressed jointly, and not as separate — or even conflicting — concerns. And, just as she had to fight against being marginalized in the civil rights movement because of her gender, so she had to push back against being marginalized in the feminist movement because of her race. She did so not with anger or bitterness but with determined grace. She spoke of this during a book signing at the Library of Congress in 2004: “I have been in the proximity of, and threatened by, the Klan; I have been called everything people of color are called; I have been denied admission because of a quota. I’ve had all of that, but I’ve also learned that getting bitter is not the way
Ms. Height never gave up the fight. Even as her age advanced, she continued to advocate for black families, preach self-reliance and despair over the lack of voting rights for the District. Recently, when she thought a worthy tennis program for children was threatened, she put her prestige on the line. Just as words can’t fully capture her, so they fail to describe the void left by her death.

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4 Responses

  1. It never fails to amaze me that racism trumps sexism every time but what amazes me most is that the racism only covers the male gender.

    Why is that?

    Why does the injustice and treachery that terrorized 12% of our population for 200 years trump the never-ending injustice and treachery that continues to terrorize more than half of them because they were women. 52% of those who legally won eqal rights under the law (the black women) did not receive the rights their brothers did nor did the majority 52 % of all our society which are women of every race creed and color.

    This lack of parity began long before the civil rights movement and black women continue not to receive the rights the black man legally did and yet they refuse to join the majority and fight with us for what their brothers neglected to share with them. Why?

    Why did the civil rights movement stop short of the women folk of the black race? Was it because it would have had to include all women?

    When will women of all races, creed, color and religion join forces and as the majority speak with one voice demanding respect and parity as a human right of which we are entitled to fair and equal rights and responsibilities?

  2. Anyone interested in reading about how women took a seat on the back of the bus for civil rights might want to read Personal Politics by Sara Evans.

    • Great piece Ms. Behaved!

      I hope to one day see the injustices and the inequality erradicated!

  3. When are women of all races, creed, color and religion going to say “enough is enough” and start fighting for their own equal rights instead of just settling for what is tossed their way?

    Are we “less deserving” of what is equally and rightfully our place in the scheme of life?

    Except for a few brave souls out there, like those at The Majority United – RIDS who are fighting and demanding equal rights for all women, where is the rest of the 50% of the 52% of women?

    Nothing is ever going to change when it comes to women’s equal rights until every woman gets on board and starts advocating for themselves!

    What’s that old saying: “If you want something done right, you need to do it yourself”!

    We have all heard the complaints from women who are dissatisfied, been overlooked, taken for granted and treated badly and what are we doing about it, NOTHING!

    Women are still being discounted and told to accept their fate in life as “second class citizens”!

    It’s time for women of all races, creed, color and religion to join forces and “step up to the plate” to fight for women’s equality!

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