Dr. Dorothy Height was born in Richmond, Virginia. At an early age, she moved with her family to Rankin, Pennsylvania. While in high school, Height was awarded a scholarship to Barnard College for her oratory skills; however, upon arrival, she was denied entrance. At the time, Barnard admitted only two African Americans per academic year and Height had arrived after the other two had been admitted. After this disappointment, she subsequently pursued studies at New York University, where she earned her Master's Degree in psychology.
Years later, at its 1980 commencement ceremonies, the Barnard College awarded Height its highest honor, the Barnard Medal of Distinction. According to an article written in the New York Amsterdam News by author Jamal E. Watson, Barnard College also officially apologized to Height for their refusal to admit her into the college.
The musical stageplay If This Hat Could Talk, based on her memoirs Open Wide The Freedom Gates, opened in the summer of 2005 and is currently on tour. It showcases her unique perspective on the civil rights movement and details many of the behind-the-scenes figures/mentors who shaped her life, including Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt.