City Paper is not for tourists
UPDATED 4 P.M.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty visited a stricken Dorothy Height last month, weeks before the civil-rights pioneer’s death.
The visit is significant because nothing has symbolized Fenty’s deteriorating relationship with black voters quite like his seeming snub of Height last summer.
Height, who died last week at 98, became enmeshed in a city political squabble when the Fenty administration threatened to evict former First Lady Cora Masters Barry and her nonprofit from the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center last August. Barry tapped her impressive Rolodex, and Height, along with poet Maya Angelou, twice scheduled meetings with Fenty to plead for mercy. Both were canceled by Fenty’s office; the mayor would not explain why.
Height attended a September court hearing challenging the eviction, telling reporters afterward in a faint, matter-of-fact voice that she’d been unable to get a meeting with Hizzoner.
They finally had their rendezvous.
Fenty visited Height at Howard University Hospital last month, shortly after she was admitted on March 25. The meeting was confirmed by a spokesperson for the National Council of Negro Women, the advocacy organization
founded long led by Height.
Perhaps the meeting was meant to defuse tensions—-tensions that have already bled onto the hustings. Or perhaps the mayor simply wanted to pay his respects to a civil rights legend.
The mayor’s office would not confirm the meeting.
UPDATE, 4 P.M.: A person who was at the hospital during Fenty’s visit offers some more detail: “She was in a coma,” the person says, so there would have been no conversation. The mayor was at Height’s bedside “for a very short period of time.”