Today We Lose a Civil Rights Legend-Dorothy Height

WASHINGTON (AP)Dorothy Height, who as longtime president of the National Council of Negro Women was the leading female voice of the 1960s civil rights movement, died Tuesday. She was 98.

Height, who continued actively speaking out into her 90s, had been at Howard University Hospital for some time.

As a teenager, Height marched in New York’s Times Square shouting, “Stop the lynching.” In the 1950s and 1960s, she was the leading woman helping the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leading activists orchestrate the civil rights movement.

The late activist C. DeLores Tucker once called Height an icon to all African-American women.

“I call Rosa Parks the mother of the civil rights movement,” Tucker said in 1997. “Dorothy Height is the queen.”

Height was on the platform at the Lincoln Memorial, sitting only a few feet from King when he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963.

“He spoke longer than he was supposed to speak,” Height recalled in a 1997 Associated Press interview. But after he was done, it was clear King’s speech would echo for generations, she said, “because it gripped everybody.”

Height became president of the National Council of Negro Women in 1957 and held the post until 1997, when she was 85. She remained chairman of the group.

“I hope not to work this hard all the rest of my life,” she said at the time. “But whether it is the council, whether it is somewhere else, for the rest of my life, I will be working for equality, for justice, to eliminate racism, to build a better life for our families and our children.”

Here’s a bio of Dr Height

Chair and President Emerita
National Council of Negro Women

For nearly half a century, Dorothy Irene Height has given leadership to the struggle for equality and human rights for all people. Her life exemplifies her passionate commitment for a just society and her vision of a better world.

  • Dorothy Height was born in Richmond, Virginia March 24, 1912, and educated in public schools in Rankin, Pa, a borough of Pittsburgh, where her family moved when she was four.
  • Height established herself early as a dedicated student with exceptional oratorical skills. After winning a $1,000 scholarship in a national oratorical contest on the United States Constitution, sponsored by the Elks, and a record of scholastic excellence, she attended New York University and earned her bachelor and master’s degrees in four years. She did postgraduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work.
  • In 1933, Height became a leader of the United Christian Youth Movement of North America in the New Deal era. It was during this period that Height’s career as a civil rights advocate began to unfold, as she worked to prevent lynching, desegregate the armed forces, reform the criminal justice system and for free access to public accommodations.
    • Height was named to deal with the outcome of the Harlem riot of 1935.Height was an organizer and served as Vice President of the United Christian Youth Movement of North America. In this capacity she was chosen as one of 10 American youth delegates to the World Conference on Life and Work of the Churches in Oxford England. Two years later (1939), she was a representative of the YWCA to the World Conference of Christian Youth in Amsterdam Holland.
    • 1937 was the turning point in the life of Dorothy Height. She was serving as Assistant Executive Director of the Harlem YWCA when Mary McLeod Bethune, founder and president of the National Council of Negro Women, noticed young Height who was escorting Eleanor Roosevelt into the NCNW meeting. Mrs. Bethune invited Height to join NCNW in her quest for women’s rights to full and equal employment, pay and education.
    • In 1938, Height was one of 10 American youth invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to spend a weekend at her Hyde Park NY home to plan and prepare for the World Youth Conference to be held at Vassar College.
    • Height served in her dual role as YWCA Staff member and NCNW volunteer, integrating her training as a social worker and her commitment to rise above the limitations of race and sex. She rose quickly through the ranks of the YWCA, from the Emma Ransom House in Harlem to the Executive Director of the Phyllis Wheatley Association in Washington D.C. and to the National Staff.
    • For thirty-three years – (1944 – 1977), Height served on the staff of the National Board of the YWCA of the USA and held several leadership positions in Public Affairs and Leadership Training and as Director of the National YWCA School for Professional Workers. In 1965, she was inaugurated and became Director of the Center for Racial Justice, a position she held until her retirement.
    • In l952, Height served as visiting professor at the University of Delhi, India, in the Delhi School of Social Work, which was founded by the YWCAs of India, Burma and Ceylon. She became known for her internationalism and humanitarianism, and conducted international studies and travel to expand the work of the YWCA.
    • Height made a study of the training of women’s organizations in five African countries: Liberia, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria under the Committee of Correspondence.
    • Height was elected National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1947 – and served until l956. She carried the Sorority to a new level of organizational development, initiation eligibility and social action throughout her term. Her leadership training skills, social work background and knowledge of volunteerism benefited the Sorority as it moved into a new era of activism on the national and international scene.
    • In l957, Height was elected fourth National President of NCNW and served until l998 when she became Chair and President Emerita.
    • In 1960, Height was the woman team member leader in the United Civil Rights Leadership along with Martin Luther King, Whitney H. Young, A. Philip Randolph, James Farmer, Roy Wilkins and John Lewis.
    • In 1961, while Height was participating in major Civil Rights leadership, she led NCNW to deal with unmet needs among women and their families to combat hunger, develop cooperative pig banks, provided families with community freezers and showers, etc..
    • In 1964, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Height with Polly Cowan, an NCNW Board Member, organized teams of women of different races and faith as “Wednesdays In Mississippi” to assist in the freedom schools and open communication between women of difference races. The workshops which followed stressed the need for decent housing which became the basis for NCNW in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop Turnkey III Home Ownership for low income families in Gulfport Mississippi.
    • In l970, Height directed the series of activities culminating in the YWCA Convention adopting as its “One Imperative” to the elimination of racism.
    • In 1970, Height established the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement in New York City to prepare women for entry level jobs. From this experience in 1975, Height in collaboration with Pace College established a first-time Associate Degree for Professional Studies (AAPS) – now incorporated as a regular professional studies degree course at Pace University.
    • In l975, Height participated in the Tribunal at the International Women’s Year Conference of the United Nations in Mexico City. As a result of this experience, NCNW was awarded a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to hold a conference within the conference for women from the United States, African countries, South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. This was followed with a site visit with 50 of the women to visit with rural women in Mississippi.
    • Under the auspices of the USAID, Height lectured in South Africa after addressing the National Convention of the Black Women’s Federation of South Africa near Johannesburg (1977).
    • Height led a crusade for justice for Black women and since l986 worked to strengthen the Black family. Under her leadership:
      • In 1966, NCNW achieved tax-exempt status.
      • In 1974, NCNW dedicated the statue of Mary McLeod Bethune in Lincoln Park, Washington D C; the first woman on public land in the Nation’s Capital and to an African American or woman of any race.
      • Developed model national and community-based programs ranging from teen-age parenting to pig “banks” – which addressed hunger in rural areas – and were replicated by many other groups.
      • Established the Bethune Museum and Archives for Black Women, the first institution devoted to black women’s history; and established the Bethune Council House as a national historic site.
      • Height placed NCNW on a course of issue-oriented politics, sponsoring “Wednesdays in Mississippi” when interracial groups of women would help out at Freedom Schools; voter registration drives in the South; and established communications between black and white women.
      • Established the Black Family Reunion Celebration in 1986 to reinforce the historic strengths and traditional values of the Black family.

    Dorothy I. Height has received awards and citations including the:

    • John F. Kennedy Memorial Award
    • Hadassah Myrtle Wreath of Achievement
    • Ministerial Interfaith Association Award
    • Ladies Home Journal – Woman of the Year
    • Congressional Black Caucus – Decades of Service
    • President Ronald Reagan – Citizens Medal
    • Franklin Roosevelt – Freedom Medal
    • Essence Award
    • Camille Cosby World of Children Award
    • Caring Institute – Caring Award
    • NAACP – Spingarn Medal
    • National Women’s Hall of Fame
    • President Bill Clinton – Presidential Medal of Freedom
    • On Height’s 92nd birthday March 24, 2004, President George W. Bush presented her theCongressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian and most distinguished award presented by the United States Congress.

    She has received thirty-six Honorary Doctorate Degrees from universities and colleges such as:

    Tuskegee University, Spelman College, Pace University, Bennett College, Lincoln University, Harvard University, Howard University, Princeton University, New York University, Morehouse College, Meharry Medical College, Columbia University.

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Sad News Today We Lost a Legend RIP Guru… He Loses His Battle to Cancer

From DJ Premier’s Blog RIP GURU

This is heartbreaking news to lose a legend like Guru..It’s heartbreaking reading his letter which personally I find a bit suspect..I’ve known Guru since 1991 or 92.. Always had a good relationship when he came to the Bay.. He made a special trip and opened up for my old Friday Night Vibe radio show.. He blessed it. He came to a surprise birthday party a couple of years later and blessed the crowd with a nice promptu performance. Over the years he’s come by shows numerous times and always had good conversation and keen insight..

Can’t say for sure what his relationship with Solar has been, but it definitely made a cool friendship strained. The last time I saw him about two years ago,  I had stayed over from a scheduled trip to catch up with Guru.. We sat down started off doing a nice interview  and suddenly it went south.. He bolted out in the middle of an interview because his boy Solar who I included in the interview got upset when I asked ‘How Do You Guys as veterans in the rap game manage to stay relevant for today’s audience? He took offense and claimed they weren’t old men.. said he didn’t wanna do the interview, Guru looked at Solar and bolted out..He bounced out refused to talk unless Solar said it was cool which he didn’t and that was pretty much last time I chopped it up with him…That was too bad….

In any case I wish him well in the afterlife He was a good dude…Today we lost a legend and he will be missed

-Davey D-

Guru aka Keith Elam has passed away yesterday morning (April 19) after a long battle with cancer.

According to Solar, Guru suffered from the malicious illness for over a year and after numerous special treatments under the supervision of medical specialists failed, the legendary MC succumbed to the disease. Guru always tried to keep this harrowing diagnosis in private but in early 2010 he had to admit himself to hospital due to serious effects caused by the disease.

Since the onset of illness, Guru tried to live a “normal” life as an influential and outstanding musician, loving father, family man, and best friend. Doctors encouraged Guru to think positive that the cancer can be arrested and that a full recovery is possible but several special treatments including hard hitting chemotherapies failed.

While in hospital with terminal cancer, Guru wrote a letter, which was provided by Solar, to his fans addressing his illness, his shining music career, his family and loved ones.

“I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options. I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting,” read the official Guru statement.

“My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody’s feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.”

The statement reads on, “I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.”

Guru, born Keith Elam, rose to fame in the 80’s as the founder of the legendary rap group GangStarr. The group released the classic single Words I Manifest followed by their critically acclaimed debut album No More Mr. Nice Guy (1989) and the classic album Step In The Arena (1991). Guru was the first artist to truly blend Hip-Hop with Live Jazz beginning in 1993, and seeing the vast influences his Jazzmatazz concept has had on the industry, it is clear that Guru’s musical contributions have been way ahead of their time. Guru has worked with such great artists as Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis, Roy Ayers, Chaka Kahn, Branford Marsalis, David Sanborn, Bob James, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Common, Angie Stone, Jamiroquai, Macy Gray and Damien Marley, to name a few. Despite the fact that Guru isn’t hailing from New York, he is noted as a pioneer of the New York sound and true lyrical Hip-Hop. Guru later on joined forces with hit producer Solar and formed his label 7 Grand Records with the goal to keep “real” Hip-Hop alive.

Guru’s longtime partner, Solar, issues an official statement about the lost of the legendary MC which you can read below:

“The world has lost one of the best MCs and Hip-Hop icons of all time — my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru! Guru has been battling cancer for well over a year and has lost his battle! This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it but tragically this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius. For the fans that reached out with love and support, I can’t tell you how much that meant to Guru and myself. Guru prepared this letter [read above] while he was in the hospital for the fans. I hope now that Guru has moved on to a better place! Guru is a great Black American Hero and should always be remembered as such and he is much more that just a Hip-Hop icon — he has changed the world for the better. I salute my fallen brother Guru! He will be missed tremendously!” Solar stated.

We will sorely miss Guru, both from a personal and from a professional standpoint. Our warmest condolences to Guru’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.

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