From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Congratulates Dr. Dorothy Height on Receiving Congressional Gold Medal

March 18, 2004

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, other Congressional leaders, and President Bush today congratulated Dr. Dorothy Height on receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, the most distinguished award bestowed by the United States Congress. The ceremony took place in the Capitol:

"Dr. Dorothy Height’s good friend and mentor, Mary McLeod Bethune, once said: 'Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is possible. With it, everything is possible.'

"Today, America pays tribute to a humanitarian of profound faith in God and in her country; a patriot who has devoted her life of service to our democracy; and a pioneer who always believed that a new day of justice and freedom was possible. I would also add a woman of timeless dignity and grace.

"For Dr. Dorothy Height, the struggle for equality in America in the 20th Century - for civil rights, for women’s rights, for voting rights, for human rights - is the story of her life.

"At a time when women were overlooked and underappreciated, Dr. Height was often the only woman at the table. During one meeting of the White House civil rights panel, she took a seat next to President Lyndon Johnson. When a male member of the council insisted on having that, she was ushered down the line.

"But Dr. Height was never one to be pushed aside. She pulled up a chair and sat down on the other side of President Johnson. And because she did, that day the whole world saw an African American woman seated proudly next to the President of the United States. As they do today.

"Dr. Height, as House Democratic Leader, I often sit at that same table as the only woman. I want to thank you for bringing our nation closer to the ideal of equality that is both our heritage and our hope.

"Dr. Height is a beacon to her own generation and generations to follow. Countless young people have been inspired by her idealism, strengthened by her courage, and guided by her faith. She has empowered these young people to make a difference by her own passion for justice.

"As she has said of her own youth, 'I may be 92, but it was what I did before I was 19 that made the difference.' Imagine the bravery, the courage of a young Dorothy Height, protesting the poll tax and the use of chain gangs.

"Dr. Height, your receiving this award not only brings prestige to you, but prestige to the Congressional Gold Medal. Words are not powerful enough to express our appreciation for your contributions to our democracy. We can only try. Not as enough, but as a token of our appreciation, we all thank you for your faith, your hope for a better future, and your love of our country and the American people.

"The freedom gates have indeed opened wider because of your leadership - and we resolve today to carry on the work of your life.

"God bless you, Dorothy Height. God bless America."




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