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African American History Forum

98 Yr old Dorothy Height hospitalized

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Civil rights icon Dorothy Height turned 98 years old on Wednesday. About 150 people gathered at the National Council of Negro Women in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the occasion, but the guest of honor was not there.

Dr. Height was admitted to Howard University Hospital last Thursday, according to former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. Height's condition is listed as "serious, but stable."

Ms. Herman told the gathering that friends who were taking the very elderly woman to an awards dinner noticed that Dorothy Height appeared tired. They took her to the hospital "kicking and screaming," said Herman, to get a physician's opinion.

In recent years, Dorothy Height has suffered from some heart problems, and has had a pacemaker implanted. But the doctors at Howard told friends that Height's heart appeared to be functioning normally. However, they recommended admission for observation and bed rest.

"She just needed a rest, to be very honest with you," Secretary Herman told the assembled crowd, "She was just plain tired."

Herman said Dr. Height is being sedated so she will sleep well, and doctors are optimistic she will regain her strength.

Dorothy Height was a counselor on civil rights matters to the late First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She has also met with at least three U.S. presidents to discuss racial matters.

As a teenager, she was denied admission to Barnard College because the institution had a quota of two African American students per year. She was the third to show up with her acceptance letter.

She attended New York University instead, and earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in four years.

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Civil rights activist Dorothy Height, 98, remained in “very serious, but stable condition” Saturday, her friend and spokeswoman said.

A flurry of rumors about Height’s death appeared Saturday on the Internet, particularly on the social networking site Twitter, where her name was a trending topic. Wikipedia also briefly reported Height’s death.

Height remains hospitalized, according to Alexis Herman, her friend and former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Height was admitted to Howard University Hospital earlier this week. Further details about her condition were not immediately available.

We are grateful for the professional care of her doctors,” Herman said in a written statement. “We especially thank everyone for your thoughts, prayers and support during this challenging time.”


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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