- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 29, 2010

People from all walks of life gathered Thursday at the Washington National Cathedral to say “thank you” to Dorothy Irene Height, the 98-year-old activist who spent her life fusing civil rights and women’s rights.

The packed memorial service reflected the personality of Miss Height, who was forceful and humorous, sobering and dignified.

Members of Miss Heights sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, arrived by the busloads. Other mourners began arriving as early as 5 a.m. Many, including an Army specialist about to deploy to Iraq, had children in tow.

Close friends such as Camille Cosby and Maya Angelou, who spoke at the service, sat in reserved seating, while the rest of the attendees sat among a who’s who of black America that dated from the LBJ administration to the current 111th Congress.

Rep. John Lewis, who stood with Miss Height and others as Martin Luther King delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963, mingled with mourners in the vestibule and obliged several women who asked the civil-rights icon to pose with them for photographs. Mr. Lewis, former head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is the only surviving member of the so-called Big Six of the rights movement.

Some mourners thought it interesting that people who once wanted to block Miss Heights humanitarian work and weren’t particularly keen on women being involved in the movement were now paying homage to her.

Not everybody wanted women on the frontlines, said Dr. Alyce Gullattee, a psychiatric official with the Howard University School of Medicine.

D.C. Council member David Catania said the service reflected Miss Height, whom he called “a model for young men and women.”

President Obama eulogized Miss Height as a seeker of justice who stood as a “testament to life lived righteously” and deserving of a place in America’s “pantheon.”

Following the service, which lasted about an hour and a half, mourners followed the escorted funeral procession to Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Brentwood, Md., for burial.