Civil rights legend Dorothy L. Height celebrated her 98th birthday on March 24 while recovering from a brief illness at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., reported. 

Deemed as the “godmother of the civil rights movement,” Height has received many significant national honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, the Congressional Gold Medal and the NAACP Spingarn Medal.

Height was the only female identified as an equal among the “Big Six” in the United Civil Rights Leadership with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., A. Phillip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Whitney H. Young and Floyd McKissick. 

While serving as president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women, Height is also the driving force behind the Black Family Reunion, an annual celebration that honors African-American family values. 

“In my lifetime, I have witnessed the evolution of desegregation, the spread of civil rights and the rise of possibilities for people regardless of race and sex. I have also recently witnessed the passage of our health care bill, something people of all different races and genders can applaud,” Height said in a statement. “It is my pleasure to spend my 98th birthday celebrating these tremendous changes in our country’s history and revel in how far we have come to be where we stand together today.”

Height was admitted to the hospital on March 18 after friends noticed that she appeared tired.

While Height has experienced some heart problems in the past and now relies on a pacemaker, doctors at Howard told friends that Height’s heart appeared to be functioning normally. Still, they recommended admission for bed rest and observation.