“The continuing legacy of those historic songs helped bind us together, gave us courage and helped us march together during the Civil Rights Movement. I believe as you do that this is historical and cultural information which should be preserved. Since it is not, you are performing an essential public service and for this you should be commended. Your talents have brought exposure and life to America’s first true art form. It is our social responsibility to preserve the culture that our forefathers died for. Know that you are an important educational resource. Keep up the good work.”— Dr Dorothy I. Height (1912 – 2010) Chair & President Emerita National Council of Negro Women, Inc
That is what my friend Dr Dorothy I. Height wrote to me in a letter. She encouraged me when people wouldn’t listen. She would tell me things about her life, and how people thought she was out of her mind to buy a building on Pennsylvania Ave to house the National Council Of Negro Women, especially since NCNW already had a building. She pushed her idea until she got what she wanted, and because of her actions and commitment to the process, not only is the National Council of Negro Women the only privately owned building on Pennsylvania Ave between the White House and the US Capitol building, but it is also right next to the Square where slaves were sold in Washington DC. Her main purpose in acquiring the building was to ensure that every time a President left the White House to go to the US Capitol building they would have to pass the Square where the slaves were sold & the National Council of Negro Women. She wanted every one of our Presidents to be reminded, that it was our enslaved African brothers and sisters who were instrumental in helping build our country. Without the enslaved Africans contributions America would not be America. She believed like I do that the spirituals created by unacknowledged slaves were a vital part in keeping records of our history. As she said to me on numerous occasions “without the spirituals being preserved and understood, it would be like we were never here.” She made me promise her that I would never give up on my legislation and I kept my promise. Today the African American spirituals are recognized as a national treasure. And in that same legislation the slaves were honored for their contributions and gifts to our nation with our deepest gratitude and respect. Below is picture of the National Council of Negro Building and the Square where enslaved Africans were bought and sold.