Dr. Doris Derby, Ph.D.

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2021 Ebon Dooley Honoree- Change Maker

Honored Humanities Scholar, Civil Rights Icon, Documentary Photographer, Activist, Educator, Author

Dr. Doris Derby, Ph.D., is an honored humanities scholar, civil rights icon, documentary photographer, activist, educator, and author.  Her book POETAGRAPHY: Artistic Reflections of a Mississippi Lifeline in Words and Images: 1963–1972.  Her second book, A Civil Rights Journey, is an astonishing journal chronicling her thoughts, visual images, and experiences with the people of Mississippi and the founding of several important civil rights organizations.  Her 3rd book is titled Patchwork: Paintings, Poetry and Prose; Art and Activism in the Civil Rights Movement: 1960-1972.


Dr. Derby worked in the Civil Rights Movements in Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama alongside civil rights luminaries Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Cotton, Dr. Dorothy Height, Dr. Septima Clark, Senator Julian Bond, Congressman John Lewis, Mayor Andrew Young, Rev. Hosea William, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others. Dr. Derby was a working member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  She joined SNCC in 1961, and in the summer of 1962 worked in the Albany, GA movement.


In 1963, she moved to Jackson, MS to work as a SNCC Field Secretary and to work on an adult literacy project at Tougaloo College in Mississippi.  From 1963-1972 she was involved in many SNCC projects and initiatives, including Council of Federated Organizations, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.  She was recruited to be a head teacher and teacher trainer at Child Development Group of Mississippi, the first Head Start Program in the United States.  In 1963, she co-founded the Free Southern Theater, which was the cultural arm of SNCC.  She also joined the team of Southern Media, a documentary film-making group.  Dr. Derby's extensive academic work includes being the Founding Director of Georgia State University’s (GSU) Office of African American Student Services and Programs (OAASS&P) in the division of student affairs.  At GSU she was also an adjunct Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology.  She has taught at the College of Charleston, the University of Illinois, and the University of Wisconsin.  She has also lectured at Jackson State College on African Art and Culture.


She is a documentary photographer whose photographs have been exhibited in museums throughout the country, including the Smithsonian Institute, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Bronx Museum in New York, the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles, and the High Museum in Atlanta.  Her work has also been exhibited in museums in Montpellier, France, and Margate and London in England.


Dr. Derby resides in Atlanta with her husband, actor and Army Veteran, Bob Banks.  They continue to be productive in their professions and are active in their community.