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Dorothy Height Postage Stamp

Another Methodist Honored on a Postage Stamp

As historian for St. Peter’s I am expected to focus on keeping important historical documents and records, as well as highlighting our church’s history. However, I think I should also highlight important Methodists when they become prominent in unexpected settings. Some months ago I wrote about the postage stamp honoring Richard Allen (1760-1831), the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Now a United Methodist has been so honored.

he Postal Service and its Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee set the eligibility standards for stamp subjects, and no one can be chosen without having made “extraordinary and enduring contributions to American society, history, culture or environment.” It’s a physically small form of recognition, but a hugely selective one. Not many people get their face on a U.S. Postal Service stamp. The United Methodist to be honored is Dorothy Height, a person I was not familiar with until this action by the Postal Service.

A commemorative “forever” stamp honoring Dorothy Height goes on sale February 1, 2017. Dorothy Height, a United Methodist, loomed large in civil rights and women’s rights history. Height, who died in 2010 at age 98, held key positions with both the YWCA and the National Council of Negro Women. She led the latter for more than 40 years. A longtime member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in New York, Height helped organize the National Council of Churches women’s caucus. She also founded the Black Family Reunion Celebration.

Her work included fighting segregation in the 1950s and helping black citizens register to vote in the South in the 1960s. Through the years, she focused on addressing poverty, and on expanding opportunity for women and strengthening families. She was on the stage when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Four decades later, she was still traveling widely as a social justice and human rights advocate. Near the beginning of her career, she helped Eleanor Roosevelt organize the 1938 World Youth Congress.

Though not as well-known as other civil rights leaders, Height was much honored as an older woman, including with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Soon after her death, Congress passed a bill, signed into law by President Obama, naming a Washington, D.C., post office after her.

Robert Williams

(Source: Sam Hodges, United Methodist News Service)