Obama Eulogizes Dorothy Height As a “Drum major” For Freedom and Service

By Cullen Dirner

Apr 29, 2010 11:59am

From Sunlen Miller

Calling the late Dorothy Height a “drum major” for freedom and service, President Obama today paid tribute to the civil rights icon who, he said, laid the ground for his family.
“The love in this sanctuary is a testament to a life lived righteously, a life that lifted other lives, a life that changed this country for the better over the course of nearly one century here on Earth, “the president said from the National Cathedral this morning. “Progress that ultimately made it possible for Michelle and me to be here as president and first lady — that progress came slowly. “   

The president said that he came to love Height – though her stories, smile and the “regal” hats which he said she wore like a crown.

“In the White House, she was a regular.  She came by not once, not twice — 21 times, she stopped by the White House,” the president joked to laughter in the room.

In her final months of her life, the president recalled, she was still fighting for her cause – and he told an anecdote about Height trying to make her way to the White House for a meeting on unemployment while nearly 2 feet of snow was covering Washington this past February.

“True to form, Dr. Height insisted on coming, despite the blizzard — never mind that she was in a wheelchair.  She was not   about to let just a bunch of men in this meeting. It was only when the car literally could not get to her driveway that she reluctantly decided to stay home — but she still  sent a message about what needed to be done.”

The president said this captures her “quiet, dogged, dignified” persistence that she lived throughout her life.

“Dr. Dorothy Height deserves a place in this pantheon.  She too deserves a place in our history books.  She too deserves a   place of honor in America's memory.”

-Sunlen Miller

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