Dr. Doris A. Derby, an educator from New York City, earned her BA Degree from Hunter College, NYC. She received her MA and Ph.D. in Cultural/Social Anthropology, specializing in African American Studies, at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana in 1980. She is also a documentary photographer, filmmaker, exhibitor, speaker, art collector, activist and author. After Twenty-two years of service, as Founding Director of African American Student Services and Programs, and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Derby retired from Georgia State University (GSU) in 2012. During this time she helped thousands of students survive, thrive, be retained and graduate with options.
Dr. Derby was active in the Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi Civil Rights Movements, and her work reflects themes of social justice, history, culture, race and identity of African Americans during that time. She worked in concert with Civil Rights organizations and historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) during her ten years as a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement from 1962-1972. Among other things, she was a working member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (S.N.C.C.) working in voter registration initiatives, a co-founder of the Free Southern Theater, a Head Resource teacher with the pioneering Child Development Group of Mississippi Head Start Program (CDGM), a lead person in the development of the Poor Peoples Corporations’ Handcraft Cooperatives and Liberty House Marketing Cooperative, and a working member of Southern Media, Inc., a documentary photography and filmmaking group.
Before initially working in the south, and since then in Atlanta, Derby has experienced and supported the fight for equal rights. She has been involved in many community self help programs, local and national organizations, artistic activities in the visual arts, dance, theater and film. Such work and related experiences has drawn upon the cultural history of the African and African American heritage. Her involvement can be seen in her artifacts, documents and original iconic photographs of the Civil Rights Movement which have been exhibited both here and abroad in galleries, museums, universities, airports, publications, documentary films, public art spaces and depicted in murals. Several of her artifacts, documents and photographs are a part of the permanent collections of the High Museum, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Dr. Derby is a long-time member of Sistagraphy, a Black Women’s photography collective in Atlanta, GA.