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Episode 81 | Doris Crenshaw


A Senior Grassroots Coordinator for Sphere, Senior Consultant to Alabama Power Company, and Founder/CEO of The Southern Youth Leadership Development Institute, Doris Dozier Crenshaw has over 50 years of community activist experience.

In 1955, at the age of 12, Doris served as Vice President of the NAACP Youth Council, when Mrs. Rosa Parks was advisor to the Youth Council. After completing her degree at Clark College, she continued her community outreach in Chicago with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Open Housing Campaign.

Doris began her professional career as Southern Field Representative for the National Council of Negro Women organizing chapters, designing rural economic programs (credit unions, quilting bees, grocery stores and pig banks), and health and housing programs.

In 1977, Doris joined the Carter White House Domestic Policy staff for the Small and Minority Business Issue Division, then moved on to serve as Deputy Director for the 1980 South East Region Carter Presidential Campaign. In the early 1980s, she was Special Assistant to Rev. Jesse Jackson and also served as his Mobilization Director for his Special Projects. In this capacity, Mrs. Crenshaw worked extensively in Washington, DC and nationwide with black businesses for the PUSH Trade Bureau. Doris then served as consultant to Vice President Walter Mondale and was later named National Political Director for the ‘Mondale for President Campaign’ in 1983.

In 1985, Doris was asked by Mrs. Coretta Scott King to serve as Director of Mobilization for the First National holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The holiday was officially celebrated in January 1986. Doris was then asked by Mrs. Dorothy Height to serve as the Director of the Mobilization for the First National Black Family Reunion, which was attended by more than 600,000 people, and then served as Director of Mobilization of the Black Family Reunion in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Detroit.

In 2008, Doris Crenshaw founded the Southern Youth Leadership Development Institute, SYLDI. SYLDI was created to address educational policy issues affecting our community. The organization has a national board of directors consisting of corporate, business, educational and government leaders that serve to engender interactive involvement and sponsorship. The National Board Members assist in identifying resources to promote program excellence and sustainability.

Over the years, Mrs. Crenshaw has been recognized and awarded various accolades from organizations around the country, such as, the Montgomery Improvement Association’s “Spirit of Humanity” Award (2005); the B. A. King “Appreciation Award” (2007); CEO Network’s “Cee Global Award of Ethics and Excellence Award (2007); the Perennial Strategy Group’s “Civil Rights Icon Award” (2008); the “Dr. Dorothy I. Height Award for Leadership” Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc (2011); “the Legacy Leadership Award for Humanity” Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (2012); and “the Alabama Shining Star Award” from Congresswoman Terry Sewell (2012); her most recent honor was to have life works read into the 2015 United States Congressional Record.

Mrs. Crenshaw is a life time member of the NAACP and a life time member of the National Council of Negro Women. She is also a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, First United Church of Christ and serves as an Advisor to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-violent Social Change.

The accomplishment that she is most proud of is her daughter, Dr. Kwanza (Mikki) Crenshaw.

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