U.S. President Barack Obama said civil rights leader Dorothy Height lived a righteous life that changed the United States for the better. Mr. Obama spoke on Thursday during a funeral service for Height at the Washington National Cathedral.

She led the National Council of Negro Women for decades and marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She died last week.

Mr. Obama praised Height for contributing to civil rights advances, sometimes at personal risk. He said she “deserves a place” in history books and America’s memory,

Mr. Obama spoke of the environment in which Height was raised, where lynching was still commonplace and many black people were denied opportunity.

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