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Hundreds Line Street, Pay Tribute To Civil Rights Icon

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By Peter Granitz

Memorial services for civil rights icon Dorothy Height are underway, and Washington area residents are coming out by the hundreds to pay their respects.

People packed the sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington for hours Tuesday evening. Facing a setting sun and a chilly wind, people waited for a chance to see Height's closed casket - covered in hundreds of red roses and surrounded by police and military in dress uniforms.

Mourners passed time by sharing stories, talking about what Height meant to them and whether they had the chance to meet her.

Many were decked out in purple; Jennifer Gibbs-Phillips says it was Height's favorite color.

"Well it stands for royalty," says Gibbs-Phillips. "She was a very royal woman."

Height helped Gibbs-Phillips open the Washington Middle School for Girls in Southeast.

Alex Martinez says Washington residents shared a special bond with Height, who was the most prominent woman in the civil rights movement.

"One lady said 'I used to see her coming home,'" she says. "It's rare that you see someone at that level on a day-to-day basis. With D.C., everyone's protected."

Delta Sigma Theta sorority at Howard University will host a special ceremony for Height Wednesday. She will be buried Thursday.

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