A Special Thank You from Adrienne Trimble, General Manager of Diversity & Inclusion for Toyota Motor North America

Adrienne Trimble Comments

Dorothy J. Height Commemorative Forever Stamp Luncheon

February 1, 2017


Good afternoon!

Thank you so much for allowing Toyota to share in such a historic celebration.  I am Adrienne Trimble, General Manager of Diversity & Inclusion for Toyota Motor North America.  I am so happy to be here on such an auspicious occasion to recognize yet another significant accolade for Dr.  Dorothy Height.

As we all know, Dr.  Height was a trailblazer who dedicated her life fighting for racial and gender equality.

During the Civil Rights Movement, she organized “Wednesdays in Mississippi,” bringing together Black and White women from the North and South to create a dialogue of understanding.  Dr. Height believed there was a better way.  

At Toyota, we also believe in continuous improvement and discovering a better way.  One of Toyota’s key principles is “Respect for People.”  Just like Dr. Height and other African American leaders sought to engage their constituencies to drive inclusion for their groups, we engage in meaningful dialogue with our stakeholders for continuous improvement of our systems and processes to better society.

In 1994 President Bill Clinton awarded Dr. Height the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian award of the United States.  The medal recognizes people who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interest of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

President George W. Bush awarded her the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.  This award recognizes and gives honor to those who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major accomplishment in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.

These are the highest civilian awards in the United States.

Today we are here to celebrate yet another recognition on her behalf.  On November 16, 2016 Dr. Height became the 15th Black woman selected to be honored with a U.S. postage stamp.  To be released this year, the stamp becomes the 40th in the Black Heritage Forever series.  She joins others, beginning with Harriet Tubman, and other notable women activists such as Mary McLeod Bethune, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells.  The Black Heritage Series is the longest-running commemorative series in U.S. history.

Dr. Height has received praise for her contributions “as one of the preeminent social and civil rights activists of her time, particularly in the struggle for equality, social justice, and human rights for all people.”

It is up to those of us in this room to continue advocating for diversity and inclusion, challenging the status quo and raising our collective voices to level the playing field and to create a more diverse and inclusive society.  I will leave you with a poem that forever changed Dr. Height.  The poem was recited by Pennsylvania State Representative, Maude Coleman, who Dr. Height heard at the young age of 13.  Representative Coleman was the first African American elected official that Dr. Height had encountered.  

“To every man there openeth a high way and a low, 

And every man decideth the way his soul shall go. 

Some Souls climb the high way, others grope the low, 

And in between, on the misty flats, the rest drift, to and fro. 

To every man there openeth a high way and a low, 

And every man decideth the way his soul shall go.”

Excerpt From: Height, Dorothy. “Open Wide The Freedom Gates.”

There is work still to be done. Thank you again for the honor and privilege to join you today.  Enjoy the rest of the program.