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Derrick Clifton

Northwestern University

Communication Studies, Gender Studies and Political Science



A native of Chicago, IL, Derrick operates as an independent journalist and communications consultant. Derrick is committed to engendering dialogues on the intersections of identity, culture and politics—from #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite. Oftentimes, Derrick engages online conversations to help people understand social realities. Derrick’s reporting and news analysis has appeared in various forms all over the media spectrum, including The New York Times, NBC News, MSNBC, HLN, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Root, The Advocate, Quartz, Mic, Daily Dot, Windy City Times, and various National Public Radio affiliates. The road hasn’t always been easy. During high school, the dark side of Derrick’s accomplishments included experiencing relentless bullying, social isolation, religious persecution, and mental anguish. Derrick channeled the pain through volunteering, activism, music, and communications. Derrick came out during high school, becoming the first African-American person to lead the Queer-Straight Alliance, and forged a variety of advocacy projects. Derrick sharpened many developing skills during high school, including athletics, and helped cultivate a policy debate team that remains nationally competitive. Among many awards, scholarships and distinctions during that time, Derrick spoke in the presence of then-Senator Barack Obama about race and identity development themes in his autobiography—mere months before Obama announced his historic presidential bid. After being named a Point Scholar upon graduation, Derrick attended Northwestern University, majoring in Communication Studies, with concentrations in Gender Studies and Political Science. In additional to campus and community organizing, and stints in political communications, Derrick’s service project for Point included serving on the board of a Chicago-area agency serving homeless youth. After a track record of social justice advocacy and tone-setting columns at the Daily Northwestern on the campus diversity movement, Northwestern Magazine named Derrick Clifton one of eight “Seniors to Watch” from the entire Class of 2012. After undergrad, Derrick worked in corporate communications and wrote freelance reports and op-eds during their spare time. Eventually, Derrick returned for a second stint at Northwestern, this time earning a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism. Derrick’s capstone project was a book proposal focusing on identity intersections and cultural issues. With aspirations to become a published, prolific author, Derrick’s story continues.

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