Dorothy Height was an educator and social activist in civil rights and women’s rights, focusing on the issues of African-American women, including illiteracy, voter awareness, and unemployment. Her activism career began in high school where she participated in anti-lynching campaigns. She received her bachelor degree master’s degree in educational psychology from New York University and pursued postgraduate work at Columbia University. During the Depression Era, Height worked as caseworker for New York City Welfare Department and soon began her civil rights career, joining the National Council of Negro Women, fighting for equal rights of both African-Americans and women. In 1957, she was appointed the president of the National Council of Negro Women, holding the position for 40 years. During the Civil Rights Movement, Height created “Wednesdays in Mississippi,” which brought black and white women from the North and South together to share a dialogue of understanding. Additionally, she was a founding member of the Council for the United Civil Rights Leadership. Height severed as council for many American leaders, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who she encouraged to desegregate schools, and too encouraged President Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint African-American women in positions in government. For her long commitment to civil rights and the rights of women, Dorothy Height was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. Her funeral service at Washington National Cemetery was attend by President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as by many other leaders, dignitaries and nobility.
Lillian D. Wald March 10, 1867 – September 1, 1940
Lillian Wald was an American nurse, humanitarian, and author, who worked to ensure that women, children, immigrants, the poor, and all people of different ethnicities and religions would be able to live the American promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” She grew up in Ohio and New York, where she became a nurse. Wald hoped that as a nurse she would be able to provide decent heath care to those outside the hospital and in poor and middle-class communities, such as those who lived in the Lower East Side tenements, where she served as a “public health nurse.” In 1895, she founded the Henry Street Settlement House after witnessing firsthand the poor healthcare conditions women and children were living in. Henry Street continues today as a non-profit agency providing social services, arts programs and health care services to New Yorkers of all ages in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. Wald advocated for nurses in public schools, for the rights of women and minorities. She campaigned for suffrage and was supported racial integration. At Henry Street she employed not only women, but all men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. She made sure that Henry Street was racially integrated, as well as created Stillman House, which served the African-American community. Wald’s most notable work for civil rights was her institutional involvement with the National Negro Conference at Henry Street, which became the founding meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Berta Cáceres March 4, 1971 – March 3, 2016
,Berta Cáceres was a Honduran/Lenca environmental activist and indigenous leader who co-founded the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations), which led fierce campaigns against megaprojects in 1993. Growing up in the 1970s during a time of civil unrest and violence in Central America, Cáceres’ mother Austra Bertha Flores Lopez served as her role model. She was a midwife and social activist who took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, as well as elected as the mayor of their hometown La Esperanza, as congresswoman, and the governor of the Department of Intibucá. Throughout her activism Cáceres faced and often won against illegal logger, plantation owners, multinational corporatio19ns, and dam projects that would cut off food and water supplies to indigenous communities. Her biggest win was against Agua Zarca Dam, a joint project of Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) and Chinese state-owned Sinohydro, the world’s largest dam developer. Her fight for the environment and for the rights of her Lenca people and all indigenous people of Honduras brought threats of violence against her life. These threats continued until her death when she was killed by unknown assailants in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras on March 3, 2016. Her death was followed by the killing of her two of her colleagues. In 2012, Cáceres was awarded the Shalom Award by the Society for Justice and Peace at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, she was nominated as a finalist for the 2014 Front Line Defenders Prize (2014), and in 2015, she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize.