The United States Postal Service launched a series of stamps to honor black excellence in America. I recently found out about this collection when I bought a set featuring Richard Allen, and the debut of the 40th stamp in the commemorative series is dedicated to Dorothy Height.
There are so many important things to learn about Dorothy Height – I was ignorant of her contributions and I don’t want you to be, too. She was primarily involved in advocating for gender equality, and was hugely influential in the black feminist cause. She even had the ear of Eleanor Roosevelt and was a guest at President Obama’s Inauguration. Her fight was based on words, understanding, and listening. She sought to educate – not hinder – the progress that can be made through communication. She also worked on reproductive rights and used American institutions to her advantage. She understood the intersections between race and gender, and interwove both of their struggles in ways that we must continue to do. She has earned myriad awards (including the Presidential Medal of Freedom) for her service.
I’m not really sure why we don’t hear much about her. She’s not a household name. We learn about Coretta Scott King and Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks* (all rightfully so!), but I’m surprised that Height doesn’t come up more in the mainstream. She’s known to those who are educated in these issues, but I doubt there’d be many people out and about that would recognize her. I want us to change that. Remember her name.
The stamp is timely. As the Department of Education is now helmed by Betsy DeVos, an unqualified and incompetent appointee, it helps to know that some places still respect the achievements of real educators and advocates of cooperative dialogue. USPS is woke.
* = Rosa Parks was not the first woman to sit in the white section of a bus. Don’t forget the names of lesser-known women who did the same thing, such as Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith, who were rejected for use as symbols of the resistance due to their “dubious” backgrounds (based on sexist claims). Read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow for more context on their more anonymous status.