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Exemplifying Public Service
March 28, 2011
GW dedicates new scholarship to the late Dorothy Height.
The George Washington University announced a new scholarship Thursday dedicated to the late Dorothy Height, a leader in both the African American and women’s rights movements.
The Dr. Dorothy I. Height Scholarship for Public Service – a $10,000 scholarship – will be given each year to incoming first-year students with financial need and a personal commitment to public service, civil rights, academic excellence and public policy.
In addition to announcing the new scholarship, GW unveiled a new bench that will serve as a campus memorial to Dr. Height. The bench, which commemorates Dr. Height’s vision for equality, justice and scholarship, is located at the Square 80 Park behind GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development and next to the all-women residence hall Strong Hall.
“Dr. Height’s dedication to justice and service was a model for us all,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “We are honored to celebrate her legacy with this campus memorial and the scholarship bearing her name.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Colby King, who spoke about Dr. Height during the dedication ceremony, thanked GW for creating a scholarship in her name.
The first award of $10,000 will be made this summer to an incoming freshman.
Dr. Height, who died last spring at 98, had a longtime career in public service fighting for women’s voting rights and programs addressing poverty and HIV and AIDS. Dr. Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women from 1957 to 1997. She served as president of Delta Sigma Theta, a historically black sorority, from 1947 to 1956, and as a leader at the YWCA, where she oversaw the integration of its facilities in the 1940s.
In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in psychology from New York University, Dr. Height held several honorary doctorates from Tuskegee, Harvard and Princeton universities. President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she received Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush.
“Dr. Height is one of my personal heroes. She championed rights for all minorities and upheld a value system that all public servants should admire,” said Kelley Stokes, a graduate student in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and an alumnae of GW’s Mu Beta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.
“It’s exciting and encouraging to see the university honor the significant contributions of this incredible woman in addition to providing access for students, scholars and the public to discover the tremendous impact of African Americans throughout history.”
Inscribed on a plaque next to the bench is an excerpt from one of Dr. Height’s obituaries written by Mr. King, a Washington Post columnist.
“She was one of the foundation stones upon which the modern civil rights movement rested. Her life of service was to a country where injustice once had the upper hand. To her crowning glory, she helped the nation trump that and more.”
Bernard Demczuk, GW vice president of D.C. relations and African American historian, describes Dr. Height as a visionary.
“She stood at the crossroads of American history with the vision of a society of justice, equality and scholarship,” said Dr. Demczuk.
Dr. Height’s memorial bench will be added to the “Walking the Spirit of Black Foggy Bottom” heritage trail that celebrates the once predominately African American community in Foggy Bottom.
The bench will add to the collection of African American historical documents and memorabilia on the GW campus. Earlier this year, GW’s Africana Research Center acquired the historical papers of the late civil rights activist and attorney William Taylor in addition to receiving original artifacts from legendary Ben’s Chili Bowl.
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