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Dorothy Height was a civil rights and women's rights activist focused primarily on improving the circumstances of and opportunities for African-American women.
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While she retired from the YWCA in 1977, Height continued to run the NCNW for two more decades. One of her later projects was focused on strengthening the African-American family. In 1986,
Height organized the first Black Family Reunion, a celebration of traditions and values. The event is still held annually.
Height received many honors for her contributions to society. In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She stepped down from the presidency of the NCNW in the late 1990s, but remained the organization's chair of the board until her death in 2010. In 2002, Height turned her 90th birthday celebration into a fundraiser for the NCNW; Oprah Winfrey and Don King were among the celebrities who contributed to the event.
In 2004, President George W. Bush gave Height the Congressional Gold Medal. She later befriended the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Obama, who called her "the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement," according to The New York Times. Height died in Washington, D.C., on April 20, 2010.
Former first lady Hillary Clinton was among the many who mourned the passing of the famed champion for equality and justice. Clinton told the Washington Post that Height "understood that women's rights and civil rights are indivisible. She stood up for the rights of women every chance she had."
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