Civil Rights activist Dorothy Height was born March 24, 1912.
Congress bestowed Height with a congressional gold medal in 2003,
which was presented by President George W. Bush in 2004.
The medal in effect commemorates African American history and the
women’s rights movement in America.
The U.S. Mint continues to offer bronze duplicates of the medal in
1.5- and 3-inch sizes.
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Heights devoted her life to grassroots organizations created to
fight racism, sexism, inequality, and poverty.
In the 1960s, she stood on the front line in the battle for civil
rights for African Americans and equal rights for women.
The medal’s obverse was designed by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Donna
Weaver. The obverse depicts a portrait of Height in one of her
signature hats. DOROTHY I. HEIGHT is inscribed under the portrait, and
the inscription ACT OF CONGRESS 2003 is located to the right of her image.
The reverse was designed by Mint Sculptor-Engraver John Mercanti.
The reverse features the National Council of Negro Women’s building in
Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Capitol in the background. The reverse
also includes Height’s quote “We African American Women seldom do just
what we want to do, but always what we have to do. I am grateful to
have been in a time and place where I could be a part of what was needed.”
President Bush presented the gold medal to Height on her 92nd
birthday, in a ceremony in the United States Capitol Rotunda.
Beginning in 1958, Height led the National Council of Negro Women,
an organization founded in 1937 by her mentor and friend, Mary McLeod
Bethune. The NCNW promotes black family values and sponsors the annual
Black Family Reunion held each September on the National Mall in
During the ceremony, President Bush said he was recognizing an
American hero with a medal.
Bush said: “Since the American Revolution, Congress has awarded gold
medals to the heroes of our country. And today, we recognize a citizen
who has helped to extend the promise of our founding to millions. We
recognize a hero.”