News & Politics

Dorothy Height’s Name Is Spelled Incorrectly on a DC Post Office. Eleanor Holmes Norton Will Make Darn Sure That Gets Fixed.

Screenshot via Google Maps.

Dr. Dorothy Height was a titan of the Civil Rights Movement, and when she died in 2010 at age 98, President Obama delivered her eulogy. He also signed a bill sponsored by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s non-voting member of the House of Representatives, to rename the historic National Capital post office at 2 Massachusetts Avenue, Northeast, for Height in 2011.

But if you visit that post office, a different picture of Height’s legacy obtains: Her name is spelled “Dorothy Heights” on the door.

“I don’t think that it takes anything from her unique legacy, but it was certainly an embarrassment for the District of Columbia,” Norton tells Washingtonian. She learned of the goof via a staffer who, she says, saw a tweet complaining about the misspelling and fired off a letter to Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “I ask that you immediately correct this issue so that we can fully honor the legacy of this civil rights icon,” Norton wrote. Norton tells Washingtonian that she’s well aware we’re in the midst of a pandemic, and “I do know there’s no agency under greater strain than the Post Office” at the moment, she says, but she would like the spelling of Height’s name fixed within the next 30 days. “I am surprised that nobody brought that up earlier,” she says.

While we had Norton on the phone, Washingtonian asked her about President Trump‘s recent comments to the New York Post that Republicans would be crazy to allow the District to become a state. “Coming from Trump, I would say I’m not surprised. I don’t know why he would take his time while being interviewed by a local paper to go off like that against a jurisdiction that pays the highest fed taxes per capita,” Norton says.

Her bill to make DC the 51st state has 223 cosponsors in the House and a Senate version has 35 cosponsors, all Democrats. “You’re much too late, Mr. President, because the District is on its way to be the 51st state,” Norton says. “As I speak we have a very good chance of Democrats taking control of the Senate in 2020 and of course the President has been for some time considerably behind in the polls, and that means we have a good chance of taking on the presidency.” The probable Democratic nominee, Vice President Joe Biden, has said he supports DC statehood.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.