Doris Pemberton, civic leader and author

Date: 
Wed, 1917-11-14

On this date in 1917, Doris Hollis Pemberton was born. She was an African American civic leader, reporter, and author.

Pemberton was born in Nacogdoches, Texas, the daughter of John Henry and Della Mae (Powdrill) Hollis. She spent her childhood in Limestone County near Comanche Crossing, Webb Chapel, Rocky Crossing, and Groesbeck, Texas. She enrolled at Texas College, Tyler, when she was 16 years old and she graduated from Texas Southern University at Houston in 1955.

She attracted national attention in 1944 when she became the first Black reporter to cover a state Democratic convention in Texas, writing for the Dallas Express. Pemberton found a racially offensive placard situated near her seat at the convention and hurled the placard away. About 4,000 spectators both cheered and booed as newsreel cameras filmed the incident. She later moved to Houston, where during the 1950s she helped develop classes in arts, crafts, and science for Black children at the Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Singer Sewing Center, and the United Gas Cooking School.

Eventually she received a law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, but she never practiced. Hollis was married to Charles Pemberton and had four children. She was a member of the Newspaper Institute of America, the National Council of Negro Women, the Auxiliary to the Houston Medical Forum, the Houston Council on Human Relations, the 4-H Club, the Blue Triangle YWCA, the National Association for Financial Assistance to Minority Students, the Women of Achievement, and a number of other organizations.

She wrote a book, "Juneteenth at Comanche Crossing," in 1983, a history and reminiscences of people and places in her native Limestone County. Doris Pemberton died in Houston in May 1990, and was buried at the Paradise Cemetery.

Reference:
Dallas Express,
September 23, 1944.

Houston Chronicle,
May 23, 1990.

to be a Journalist or Reporter

Person / name: 

Pemberton, Doris Hollis