New Carrollton Gazette March 4, 1999

Reaching new Heights

Living legend attends first Black History Month program at New Hope Academy

By Torrie Mosley

   Dr. Dorothy Height, 87, chairwoman and president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, speaks Thursday at New Hope Academy in Landover Hills.  The event marked the 9-year old school's first public Black History Month program.
   Some academics have begun questioning the need for a "black history month."  For Dr. Dorothy I. Height there is no debate. 
   There are missing pages in our history books, Height said, and Black History Month exists to help America fill them.
   "Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania there were about 10 black students in my class," Height told a group of young children at New Hope Academy and Preschool in Landover Hills Feb, 25."The only mentioning of black people was slavery and every black student would cringe when that topic came up."
That experience, she said, taught her how important it is to see to it that "African-American history is part of American history."
   According to Height, "Black History Month should help us (African-Americans) understand ourselves and for others to understand us."
   Height is the chairwoman and president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, which has historically ranked as one of the nation's most influential civil rights organizations.
Dorothy Height
   At 87, Height still speaks out on civil rights issues, and in her visit to New Hope Academy, Height --- dressed in a navy blue suit with a blue and white polka dot blouse, white pearls and a blue hat --- reminisced about two of the historic African-American leaders she has met in her lifetime:  Mary McLeod and Martin Luther King, Jr.
   "Mary founded the National Council of Negro Women and she stressed love, hope and faith," Height said. "I was so grateful to be able to have met her and Martin Luther King, Jr." she said.
   "He was an interesting young man who had so many dreams and who fought for what he believed in," Height said.
    In her closing remarks Height said, "I'm proud to be me but I also see you're just as proud to be you." "Keep this in mind because if you remember this then you can make a difference." she said.
  Height also served as the national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority from 1947 to 1956.  Height has received more than fifty awards for her work in minority and human rights, including the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award of the National Council of Jewish Women and induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Dorothy Height as a young woman, civil rights activist

   President Clinton also gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.
   In honor of Height, students performed several choral selections and seven sixth graders dressed as Black Heroes such as Benjamin Banneker, Ida B. Wells and Cleopatra.
   The Union Temple Baptist Church Youth Choir from Washington performed its theme song, "We are the Youth" and "We Shall Overcome" for Height as a tribute.
   "Being in the presence of Dr. Height is an honor for me," said parent Belva Martin as she stood looking at Height leaving the building. "She is truly a giant in the field of the civil rights."
  "This was a wonderful program," parent and program coordinator Theresa Saunders said. "It was educational and most importantly the school never had a program of this nature."  
   The Multicultural Committee, in conjunction with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), worked on having the 9-year-old school's first public Black History Month program. "Our PTA wanted to form a committee that would cater to our students," Principal Joy Morrow said.  "We have a very multicultural student body and we plan on doing more programs for our students."
    Aside from the program, students have been learning about famous African-Americans.
   "Students did biographies, artwork and they learned folk and spiritual songs with the music teacher," Morrow said.
   "The committee thought students should know where they come from in order to know where they're headed" Saunders said.  "I believe today's event has given these students a new outlook on themselves."
    A living legend in her own right, Maude Brown, 104, of Capital Heights was given a standing ovation as she was escorted by her great-granddaughter, Tenena Henry-Jones of Landover Hills.
    Brown, a spunky woman dressed in a bright yellow suit, has been living in Prince George's County since 1994.  "I enjoyed today's program; it was really nice," Brown said.  " I remember Ms. Height from a long time ago."
    Henry-Jones said she heard about Height coming to the school and thought it would be a nice outing for her great-grandmother.
    Brown says she stays active by going around to nursing homes talking to her peers about any and everything.  Brown attributes "good shoes and stockings" to her being able to get around with ease.
    "It was truly a blessed day with Dr. Height and Ms. Brown being in attendance," Morrow said.