April 20, 2010 / 11:52 AM / 9 years ago

Civil rights leader Dorothy Height dies at 98

Veteran black civil rights figure Dorothy Height at an event in Washington in February 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dorothy Height, a longtime leader of the U.S. civil rights movement and the chairwoman of the National Council of Negro Women, died on Tuesday in Washington. She was 98.

Trained as a social worker, Height began her career as an advocate for civil rights and gender equality during the 1930s, working to prevent lynching, desegregate the U.S. armed forces, reform the criminal justice system and work for free access to public accommodations in the United States.

Height died at Howard University Hospital of natural causes, a hospital spokesman said.

“Ms. Height was arguably the most influential woman at the top levels of civil rights leadership, but she never drew the major media attention that conferred celebrity and instant recognition on some of the other civil rights leaders of her time,” the Washington Post said in an obituary in its online edition.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2004, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Editing by Paul Simao

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