Pemberton, Doris Hollis (1917–1990)

By: Paul M. Lucko

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: February 19, 2017

Doris Hollis Pemberton, black civic leader, reporter, and author, was born on November 14, 1917, in Nacogdoches, the daughter of John Henry and Della Mae (Powdrill) Hollis. She spent her childhood in Limestone County near the communities of Comanche Crossing, Webb Chapel, Rocky Crossing, and Groesbeck. She matriculated at Texas College, Tyler, when she was sixteen years old and graduated from Texas Southern University at Houston in 1955. Some years later she received a law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, although she never practiced. She was married to Charles Pemberton and had four children.

She attracted national attention in 1944 when she became the first black reporter to cover a state Democratic convention in Texas. She wrote for the Dallas Express. Mrs. Pemberton found a racially offensive placard situated near her seat at the convention and hurled the placard away. About 4,000 spectators either cheered or booed as newsreel cameras filmed the incident.

She later moved to Houston, where she engaged in a number of civic activities. 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. She also helped Houston's black children participate in local television programs. 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 (1983), a history and reminiscence of people and places in her native Limestone County. Doris Pemberton died in Houston on about May 21, 1990, and was buried at the Paradise Cemetery there.

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Dallas Express, September 23, 1944. Houston Chronicle, May 23, 1990.


  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Women
  • Historians

Time Periods:

  • Texas Post World War II


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Paul M. Lucko, “Pemberton, Doris Hollis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 28, 2021,

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May 1, 1995
February 19, 2017

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