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Height, Dorothy Irene (24 March 1912–20 April 2010), social worker and civil rights and women’s activist, was born in Richmond, Virginia to James Edward Height and Fannie Burroughs Height. When Dorothy was four the family moved to Rankin, Pennsylvania (outside of Pittsburgh), part of the Great Migration northward by African Americans in the early twentieth century. Her father worked as a building contractor while her mother found employment as a private nurse. Height recalled being influenced by both her father’s activities in the black Baptist church and her mother’s involvement in the black clubwomen’s movement....

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Weil, Gertrude (11 Dec. 1879–30 May 1971), activist for women’s suffrage, social welfare, Zionism, and civil rights, was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, to Henry Weil and Mina Rosenthal. Weil’s father and grandparents were antebellum Jewish immigrants from rural Württemberg and Bavaria. Settling in a southern mill and market town, they rose from peddlers to prosperous storekeepers to prominent entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Family wealth allowed Weil the autonomy to pursue a career of public service. Weil’s parents set examples of civic engagement, notably her mother who joined women emerging from domesticity and religious societies into civic organizations. After attending local public schools, the sixteen-year-old Weil was sent by her progressive parents to the coeducational Horace Mann School in New York. In ...