Celebrating Black History

Honoring Contemporary Black Women

PUBLIC SERVANTS_PART2

THROWBACK THURSDAY

dorothy_height

Dorothy I. Height 

Dorothy Irene Height (March 24, 1912 – April 20, 2010) an American administrator and educator, was a civil rights and women’s rights activist specifically focused on the issues of African-American women, including unemployment, illiteracy, and voter awareness. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

She was admitted to Barnard College in 1929, but upon arrival was denied entrance because the school had an unwritten policy of admitting only two black students per year. She enrolled instead at New York University, earning an undergraduate degree in 1932 and a master’s degree in educational psychology the following year. She pursued further postgraduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work (the predecessor of the Columbia University School of Social Work).

Height started working as a caseworker with the New York City Welfare Department, and at the age of 25, she began a career as a civil rights activist, joining the National Council of Negro Women. She fought for equal rights for both African Americans and women. In 1944 she joined the national staff of the YWCA. She was also an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority throughout her life, developing leadership training programs and ecumenical education programs. She served as national president of the sorority from 1946 to 1957.

In 1990, Height, along with 15 other African Americans, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom.[11] Height was recognized by Barnard for her achievements as an honorary alumna during the college’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 2004.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5lJ2VzaOR8

 

Constance Baker Motley '63

Constance Baker Motley 

Constance Baker Motley (September 14, 1921 – September 28, 2005) was an African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, and Borough President of Manhattan, New York City.

Constance Baker was born on September 14, 1921, in New Haven, Connecticut, the ninth of twelve children. Her parents, Rachel Huggins and McCullough Alva Baker, were immigrants from Nevis, in the Caribbean. Her mother was a domestic worker, and her father worked as a chef for different Yale University student societies, including the secret society Skull and Bones.

With financial help from a local philanthropist, Clarence W. Blakeslee, she started college at Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee, but later returned north to attend integrated New York University. At NYU, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1943. Motley received her law degree in 1946 from Columbia University School of Law, and married NYU Law School graduate and real estate broker Joel Wilson Motley Jr.

In October 1945, during Baker’s second year at Columbia’s Law School, future U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall hired her as a law clerk. She was assigned to work on court martial cases that were filed after World War II.

In 1993, she was inducted into National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Citizens Medal. The NAACP awarded her the Spingarn Medal, the organization’s highest honor, in 2003. Motley was a prominent honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

 

 

Rep._Barbara_Jordan

Barbara C. Jordan 

Barbara Charline Jordan was born in Houston, Texas’ Fifth Ward. Her parents were Benjamin Jordan, a Baptist minister; an Arlyne Jordan, a “domestic worker”. Barbara attended Roberson Elementary School. She graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1952 as an honor student.

Jordan credited a speech she heard in her high school years by Edith S. Sampson with inspiring her to become a lawyer. Because of segregation, she did not attend The University of Texas at Austin and instead chose Texas Southern University, majoring in political science and history. Barbara was a national champion debater, defeating her opponents from such schools as Yale and Brown and tying Harvard University. She graduated magna cum laude in 1956. At Texas Southern University, she pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She attended Boston University School of Law, graduating in 1959.

Jordan taught political science at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for a year.  In 1960, she returned to Houston, passed the bar and started a private law practice.

Jordan campaigned unsuccessfully in 1962 and 1964 for the Texas House of Representatives. Her persistence won her a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body. Re-elected to a full term in the Texas Senate in 1968, she served until 1972. She was the first African-American female to serve as president pro tem of the state senate and served one day, June 10, 1972, as acting governor of Texas.

In 1972, she was elected to Congress, the first woman to represent Texas in the House in her own right. She received extensive support from former President Lyndon B. Johnson, who helped her secure a position on the House Judiciary Committee. In 1974, she made an influential, televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the process of impeachment of Richard Nixon, Johnson’s successor as President. In 1975, she was appointed by Carl Albert, then Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

In 1976, Jordan, mentioned as a possible running mate to Jimmy Carter of Georgia, became instead the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.Her speech in New York that summer was ranked 5th in “Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th century” list and was considered by some historians to have been among the best convention keynote speeches in modern history.Despite not being a candidate, Jordan received one delegate vote (0.03%) for President at the Convention.

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