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Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  246 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Dorothy Height marched at civil rights rallies, sat through tense White House meetings, and witnessed every major victory in the struggle for racial equality. Yet as the sole woman among powerful, charismatic men, someone whose personal ambition was secondary to her passion for her cause, she has received little mainstream recognition—until now. In her memoir, Dr. Height, ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published January 26th 2005 by PublicAffairs (first published May 31st 2003)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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Jun 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
A real eye-opener, and an inspiration.

But first an admission: When Dorothy Height died recently, I, in my arrogance, was surprised and a little irritated that I hadn't heard of her before.

I went to a grade school that emerged out of the Civil Rights Movement, and tend to have at least some recognition of names from the movement. If you mention Stokely Carmichael, I'll nod. A. Philip Randolph? Sure. John Lewis? Why do you even ask? But I drew a complete blank on Dorothy Height, and was impressed
Jennifer Swapp
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting history not only of Dorothy Height, but an introduction to many of the important civil rights players pre, during and post civil rights era. On of the most interesting ideas proposed by Dorothy Height was her explanation of why African American's have traditionally been strong supporters of federal government power. She says, "There is a good reason why protection promised by federal laws based on democratic principles has always meant more to black people than to whites: ...more
Dedria A.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book and loved it. I initially borrowed the book to research Height for a performance I was doing on her. I was giving a speech as her, but I found it genuinely interesting. One would not think that a woman who worked in the background could be exciting, but that is the true up close and personal work. She mounted programs and projects that involved people regular people doing things that would endure in their communities.
The US uses a star system for the public figures we admir
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tiffany by: Cynthia
I think my recent fascination with this amazing woman and her amazing journey as well as her recent passing upgraded this book from 3 to 4 stars. It was very interesting to read about all that she was involved in during the Civil Rights movement and beyond, but there were so many organizations and committess named, it made my head spin. I just wish she had added a little more personal detail. On the one hand, with all of her involvement I don't see where she would have had time for a personal li ...more
Kristy Lee
Aug 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-for-women
An interesting book about Miss Height's civil rights work. Many do not even know who she is, and how powerful she was. I was a bit disappointed that she did not include more about her personal life (family, friends, what she liked ect). It read more like a timeline of all the great things she did.
Kenneth Barber
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was a fascinating memoir by a woman who played a large role in civil rights,women’s rights and rights of the poor. She was turned down for entry into Bernard College because they allowed only two black women in each year. She ended up at NYU, where she chose to major in social work. Always deeply religious,she was active in various Christian organizations while in college. This helped raise her social awareness. Upon graduation she went to work for the YWCA. She worked to improve the s ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is worth reading for those interested in the history of civil rights struggles in the US. You'll marvel at how much change has been made in some ways, and how little in others. Miss Height also makes some eerily prescient remarks about the social justice movement, particularly as it concerns the leadership torch being passed from her generation to the next.

Ultimately, however, this book reads like a history textbook or newspaper article: long on (interesting) facts, short on emotion, s
Peter Mayeux
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this autobiographical memoir interesting, informative and inspiring. The author recounts the battles she had overcoming racial and gender discrimination. The book offers interesting insights into her efforts for the birth and development of three major organizations. There are also personal insights about political, social and religious issues she faced in her long life. Dorothy Height's life is an excellent example of the importance of working together on common, shared goals. Her main ...more
Sunflower B.
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a Phenomenal Woman! She had such grace and determination lover her story and all that she accomplished! A Must Read!
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What struck me the most, reading this in the summer of 2020, was how much work still has to be done. Dr. Height details well the servant attitude she and others had, trying to bring equality and justice to people of color. She also saw clearly that injustice still existed. "Today we still have to deal with the same old issues, but from new angles... Unless we acknowledge that racism exists, we will never eliminate it. Language is such a carrier for values that there is a tendency to state proble ...more
Aug 23, 2009 added it
I'm reading this because it was quoted in Cokie Roberts "We Are Our Mothers' Daughters" which I can't find in the database. Anyway, I have just finished that book which was an interesting mix of semi-biographical & women's history. Cokie Roberts writes affectionately about her family members, especially her mother, aunt & cousins as well as daughter & daughter-in-law & with admiration for all the women who went before & broke down barriers. One of them was Dorothy Height, a black woman, was rais ...more
Dr. Height was a very amazing woman, one who saw clearly the challenges and problems of racism, and the hurt and harm that it has done (and continues to do) to African-Americans, while at the same time retaining an optimistic outlook, a belief in the power of action, of being able to make change happen even in the face of seemingly implacable challenges of institutional racism that remain after a life of hard work.

She was also a very singular person. I suspect very few people have her capacity f
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An edifying look at one of the leading figures of the Civil Rights movement in the 20th Century. Not surprisingly, although Ms. Height was at the forefront of the movement working along side of Eleanor Rosevelt, Mary Bethune, Martin Luther King and many a building, scholarship fund initiatives are named for her, she is largely unknown to the general public.
Her autobiography not only provides a first hand ride along of the events of the movement, but also gives the reader a front seat to the pers
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was totally unaware of Dorothy Height and her life's work before reading this book. Clearly my loss, and I am now aware of what a major contribution she made to civil rights in American society.

Some of the earlier chapters felt like a tour through her resume and weren't particularly interesting. The chapters on the work with the National Council for Negro Women were the clear standout of the book. Of particular interest were her discussions of her perspectives on working together with organiza
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Maureen by: UMW
Dorothy Height wrote not just a chronicle of the civil rights era, but a new American history book. Her fight has been for equality for people of color, and women as well. She is a gifted storyteller, who has been everywhere from Harlem to the White House, and has met the major cultural movers and shakers of about fifty years of this country's past. One thing I enjoy about Ms. Height is that fact that whenever she met someone, whether it was a sharecropper or a President, she interacted with the ...more
Aimee McHale
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an important memoir. I had no idea who Dorothy Height was when I heard her discussing this memoir on Diane Rehm's NPR show. Her deep resonant voice drew me in and I read the book ---- and discovered the amazing life of a woman who had played such an important but largely unrecognized role in the 20th century history of the U.S, particularly the Civil Rights Movement. What a strong and amazing woman, and how glad I am that I picked up this book.
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I picked this up by chance and feel embarrassed that I didn't know more about this extraordinary woman before now. Dorothy Height was a mover and shaker in her own right, with many recognizable faces nearby. Her memoir details a life dedicated to serving the needs of others around the globe. This is great for anyone interested in social justice.
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Felt like reading some inspirational autobiography and this fit the bill nicely. Height gets a bit bogged down in describing all of the committees she worked with and giving shoutouts to her fellow organizers, but the sections on her work in Harlem in the 40s and the civil rights movement in the 60s are fascinating and inspiring.
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible account of the history that our history books did not tell us. The close relationship between Ms. Mary McLeod Bethune and Ms. Eleonor Roosevelt among others. Dorothy I. Height's biography is inspiring and intriguing as she recounts her tireless work to improve the lives of all Americans especially African American Women. Merci Ms. Height.
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
One of the many women that I admire. This book outlines all of her achievements and the contributions to society. What a role model. Another one of my autographed books. She was phenominal. I'm glad I met her and Barak Obama when i did.
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Such an informative and exciting book written by Dr. Height. This book puts the reader in touch with with American civil rights and human rights history. She knows, she was there, from her relationship with First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt to President Barack Obama. I've read it more than once.
Ava Cato-Werhane
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: history or civil rights buffs
This book was a simplistic account of a remarkable woman. I learned so much about actual events during the civil rights movement. It was really inspiring.
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
very good book
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2012
An incredible life, though just a so-so book. Still VERY worth a read!!
Linda Robinson
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful, measured, profound.
Mona Ohana
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The matriarch of civil rights, in her own words. Dr. Height is a heroine. Required reading alongside Dr. King.
Fran Landers
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
The civil rights movement from the inside; the important role of black women.
Doris Raines
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What. And. Amazeing. Woman.
Kishanna Laurie
Feb 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
I actually have a signed copy, how wonderful is that.
Cassidy Titcomb
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned so much! Incredible grass roots work.
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Dorothy Irene Height was an African American administrator, educator, and social activist. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

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