In Memoriam: Dr. Doris Adelaide Derby

Dr. Doris Adelaide Derby

1939- 2022

The SNCC Legacy Project is sad to announce the passing on March 28, 2022 in Atlanta of SNCC veteran Dr. Doris Adelaide Derby, who worked in Mississippi and the Southern civil rights movement for nine years. Born 1939 and raised in Bronx, NY, she studied at Hunter College in New York City. While at Hunter she became involved with the student sit-ins in North Carolina. Upon graduating from Hunter in 1963, Doris traveled to the Atlanta SNCC office, and to the SNCC project in Albany, Georgia. Returning to New York to work as a teacher, Doris stayed involved with the New York SNCC office doing fundraising and other support work, and helped organize New York Artists for SNCC. After the March on Washington Doris relocated to Jackson, Mississippi and became a full-time SNCC Field Secretary. She stayed in Mississippi for nine years, during which she helped organize the Free Southern Theater, the Mississippi Folk Festival, and the Child Development Group of Mississippi. She also began documenting her work through photography.

In her essay in Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women of SNCC Doris wrote: “In my work in the southern Freedom Movement from 1962 to 1972, sometimes I was in the ground troops, and sometimes I was in the leadership.”

Doris went on to earn a Ph.D. in cultural and social anthropology. She was director of Georgia State University’s Office of African American Student Services and Programs and adjunct associate professor of anthropology. Her book: Doris Derby, A Civil Rights Journey (2021) features many of her movement photographs.