Open Wide The Freedom Gates: A Memoir

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9781586482862: Open Wide The Freedom Gates: A Memoir
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Dorothy Height marched at civil rights rallies, sat through tense White House meetings, and witnessed every major victory in the struggle for racial equality. Yet as the sole woman among powerful, charismatic men, someone whose personal ambition was secondary to her passion for her cause, she has received little mainstream recognition--until now. In her memoir, Dr. Height, now ninety-one, reflects on a life of service and leadership. We witness her childhood encounters with racism and the thrill of New York college life during the Harlem Renaissance. We see her protest against lynchings. We sit with her onstage as Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech. We meet people she knew intimately throughout the decades: W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary McLeod Bethune, Adam Clayton Powell Sr., Langston Hughes, and many others. And we watch as she leads the National Council of Negro Women for forty-one years, her diplomatic counsel sought by U.S. Presidents from Eisenhower to Clinton.

After the fierce battles of the 1960s, Dr. Height concentrates on troubled black communities, on issues like rural poverty, teen pregnancy and black family values. In 1994, her efforts are officially recognized. Along with Rosa Parks, she receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

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About the Author:

Dr. Dorothy Height has more than twenty honorary degrees. In addition to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she has received the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Freedom Medal and the Citizens Medal Award, which President Ronald Reagan awarded her in 1989. Now 91, she continues to serve as chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women. She lives in Washington, D.C.

From Publishers Weekly:

Civil rights activist and leader Height looks back on seven decades of crucial work-as speaker, social worker, protestor; as a member of the national staff of the YWCA from 1944-1977 and president of the National Council of Negro Women from 1957-1998-in this thorough but impersonal memoir. Height reports Molotov cocktails and secret civil rights meetings in back rooms, along with more quotidian aspects of racism-being invited by mistake to rush a white sorority, for example-with the same smooth tone. Although the changes Height helped bring about were dramatic, her manner is not. To adverse events, she was creative rather than reactive: her response to a TV program called "The Vanishing Black Family," for example, was to organize the Black Family Reunion celebrations. Of particular interest is her account of her close relationship with Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt, and her restoring to the history of the Civil Rights Movement the important role played by the little-known Wednesdays in Mississippi project, in which "biracial, interfaith teams of distinguished women" held weekly meetings that established "a ministry of presence." Dignity, discretion and a certain delicacy-the very elements that made her such an effective agent for social change-make her memoir a somewhat prosaic book. It chronicles days of committees, conferences and conventions, of persistent pushing for change while working within existing structures. It is a public account of public activities, an autobiographical record with none of the intimacy of the memoir. Its value for historians of the civil rights era and of black women's organizations is central, but although Height was always there, she doesn't take the reader with her. 8 page b&w photo insert not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9781586481575: Open Wide The Freedom Gates: A Memoir

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Thornd..., 2004
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