Juliette Derricotte

Juliiette Derricotte, 2022, Acrylic on Canvas, 16 x 20″

Juliette Derricotte was an American educator and political activist whose death stemming from being refused treatment after a fatal car accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee sparked outrage in the African-American community. At the time of her death she was Dean of Women at Fisk University.

In 1931, Juliette Derricotte was driving three students to her parents’ home in Atlanta. A white man driving a Model T car suddenly swerved and struck Ms. Derricotte’s car, overturning it into a ditch. The white driver stopped to yell at Ms. Derricotte and her passengers for damaging his own vehicle, then left the scene without rendering any aid. The nearby Hamilton Memorial Hospital in Dalton, Georgia—a segregated facility—refused to admit African American patients. After being treated by a white doctor at his office in Dalton., Ms. Derricotte and one of the students, Nina Johnson, were, left to recuperate in the home of a local African American woman.

Six hours after the accident the two were finally transported to a segregated hospital 35 miles away. The delay proved fatal: both women died.

An investigation into the incident by Walter White, secretary of the New York-based NAACP, concluded,

“The barbarity of race segregation in the South is shown in all its brutal ugliness by the willingness to let cultured, respected, and leading colored women die for lack of hospital facilities which are available to any white person no matter how low in social scale.”

Juliette Derricott – OutHistory