Rest In Peace

The world has lost two legends today….Dr. Dorothy Height and GURU.

We might the know the names, but not the story and the struggle.  Learn your history.

Dr. Dorothy Heights, the legendary civil and women’s rights activist died early today, April 20th, at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. She was 98.   Height, who spent her life championing equal rights causes, consulted with presidents from Eisenhower to Obama and was an inspiration to many women.

Dorothy Irene Height was born in Richmond, Va., on March 24, 1912, and grew up in Rankin, Pa. In high school, she won a scholarship to Barnard College after winning a national oratorical contest. But she arrived after Barnard had already admitted the two blacks it accepted per year at the time. Instead, Height earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at New York University in four years and did postgraduate studies in social work. By 1933, Height was working against lynching and for reforms in the nation’s criminal justice system and for free access to public accommodations.

Height, who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004, is perhaps best known for her work with the National Council of Negro Women. In 1957, Height was named president of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she held until 1997.  Height was president emerita of the NCNW. The group’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., stands steps from where slaves were once traded in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.

In 1937, Height was working with the YWCA in Harlem and was assigned to escort Eleanor Roosevelt into one of the Negro women’s group meetings. NCNW founder Mary McLeod Bethune noticed Height and asked the young woman to join the organization’s quest for women’s rights for full, equal employment, pay and education. In addition to her 33 years on the national board of the YWCA and her nearly 40 years with the NCNW, Height also served as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. from 1947 to 1957.

In 1963, Height was the only woman on the speaker’s platform when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. But she wasn’t on the program for the March on Washington even though she was the nucleus of the meetings held by the mostly male civil rights leaders who planned it.

The tiny woman was known for her impeccable attire — and her stylish, striking hats.  The musical stageplay If This Hat Could Talk, based on her memoirs Open Wide The Freedom Gates, debuted in the middle of 2005. It showcases her unique perspective on the civil rights movement and details many of the behind-the-scenes figures/mentors who shaped her life, including Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt.  She attended the National Black Family Reunion, celebrated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., every year.

Keith Elam a.k.a Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal a.k.a God is Universal a.k.a. Guru was born on July 17, 1966, near Boston.  Guru rose to fame in the late 1980s as part of the duo Gang Starr with partner DJ Premier.  

Their 1998 album Moment of Truth was among their most critically lauded collections and Gang Starr’s biggest-selling project to date. Gang Starr’s last group project, The Ownerz, was released in 2003.

Guru found solo fame in 1993 when he released the first volume of his Jazzmatazz series, an all-star project that featured a number of collaborations with jazz icons such as Branford Marsalis, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers and Ronny Jordan, as well as vocals from French producer Solaar and N’Dea Davenport of the Brand New Heavies. The album’s mixture of jazz and rap was considered pioneering at the time, and the record spawned the hit “Trust Me.” Guru would go on to make four volumes in the series.

On February 28 2010 Guru suffered a cardiac arrest and, following surgery, days later fell into a coma.  He woke from the coma but died on April 19, 2010 after a long battle with cancer. RIP

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