This elder’s eye contained and projected a vision deeper than a flash. She saw and shot what was important to see in our world and each other. Our world. Mississippi during the civil rights movement. Each other. Non-violent soldiers on the battlefield of humanity. An insistent ‘we are’–we are here, we are human.
Doris Derby is one of three founders of the Free Southern Theatre. Somewhere around 1965 or so, FST decamped from Jackson, heading further south to New Orleans. Two of the founders: John O’Neal and Gilbert Moses moved on down the line. Doris decided not to leave, not to abandon those whom she loved, those workers, farmers, and field hands who chose to stay, struggle, live and love each other in Mississippi.
These stalwarts of resistance became not just her canvas, not just the subject of her photography, but indeed the raison d’etre of her images.
All hail Doris Derby.