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Locals pay tribute to work of civil rights leader

April 25, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- The death last week of civil-rights figure Dorothy Height drew the attention of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

But Height also impressed people on a local level, including those gathered at a Hagerstown clothing shop on Sunday.

About 20 people gathered in D L & K's Franklin Plaza store Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to Height and the work she did on behalf of minorities, according to the owner of the shop.

Height was a pioneering voice of the civil-rights movement, and her activism stretched from the New Deal to the election of President Obama.

Height, who died April 20 in Washington, D.C., marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years. Height, 98, remained active and outspoken well into her 90s and often received rousing ovations at Washington-area events.

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Rocky Twyman, a Rockville, Md., business owner who was involved in Sunday's tribute to Height, said one of Height's chief interests was helping minority women start businesses.

Keturah Chambers-Boyd said she started her men's, women's and children's clothing shop at 65 W. Franklin Street about a month ago.

Chambers-Boyd is excited about the future of her shop, including dance and music lessons she hopes to offer there, and she said Height's interest in minority business inspired her even more.

Some of Chambers-Boyd's family members were in her shop Sunday, reflecting on Height's life.

Chambers-Boyd's brother, Michael Williams, said minorities are having a tough time getting businesses started, especially in the face of a struggling economy. People in the shop talked about the importance of continuing Height's work.

"It's a great loss. I pray someone will stand up and take her place," said Marjorie Chambers, Chambers-Boyd's aunt.

Chambers-Boyd said she is leasing her shop as she showed an area in the back where rugs used to be kept in a previous shop. The now-cleared area is where Chambers-Boyd said she hopes to offer dance and music lessons, and possibly other activities.

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