Doris Adelaide Derby oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Atlanta, Georgia, 2011-04-26.
I was very privileged to grow up in New York City, because in Manhattan we had something called the Schomburg Library [Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture]. And the Schomburg Library was a collection of African, African American heritage, Caribbean heritage books. Um, and one time when I was going to visit my aunt, who lived in that area, uh, and, uh, I found out that they were having auditions for, uh, a scholarship to the Katherine Dunham Dance, uh, dance class. And I tried out and I got it. So, I would have to go to Harlem once a week for my dance class, and then I’d stop at the Schomburg, and I got to meet some new kind of people.
So, um, [10:00] I got interested in pursuing and learning more about the African heritage and African and African American images, uh, the variety of people, etcetera. And so, when I didn’t see books and magazines and - in the media - it was in my mind that I would have to do it myself.
DD: My father was a - he used to take pictures at all of our family gatherings. And he had his camera and his, uh - he had the, uh, photographs made into slides, so that whenever we had family gatherings, he would get the projector and the screen and the slides out. And so, that’s what I did later on, also. Um, and that’s what I’m still doing.
JM: Yeah. Can I ask - did you actually meet, uh, Miss Dunham?
DD: Yes, I did. I met her a couple of times.
DD: Now, she didn’t teach the class herself. It was - had her name. But I did, later on, have a chance to meet her.
JM: How did - how did you come by, um, by your teenage years to be interested in joining the youth chapter of the local NAACP?
DD: Well, we had a chapter at our church. Our church had a - the old building of the church became like a community event place. Uh, the Boy Scouts met there. The Bible School, uh, took place there. We had - different organizations met there. We had fashion shows there, banquets, all of that. So, the church, uh, often in the black community, uh, was the facility for community events and community organizations. So, actually, uh, that’s why when, uh, I became a part of the Civil Rights Movement - having functions in churches, mass meetings and, uh, rallies and all of that, it wasn’t so different for me.