"With a renewed passion for helping others and a determination to prove the family court judge wrong, he graduated from high school, began working, and sought opportunities to be engaged in the community."
DQ and 5 brothers, photo taken in 1988
Growing up in Greenville, South Carolina with his mother, father, and five brothers - Derrick “PoliticalWiz” was curious about the world around him and the people in it. Despite his structured, happy upbringing, he began having disciplinary issues at school. At the age of 13, Quarles entered the juvenile justice system and was labeled a “menace to society” by a family court judge. Because of his actions, he was sentenced to serve eight months in the juvenile detention center.
With a renewed passion for helping others and a determination to prove the family court judge wrong, he graduated from high school, began working, and sought opportunities to be engaged in the community.
In 2008, Quarles joined his local NAACP chapter and helped organize a protest reprimanding gangs, drugs, and violence in a Greenville neighborhood that was widely known for crime, poverty, food insecurity, and dilapidation.
While continuing to work in the community, he enrolled at Claflin University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice.
With the growing number of police brutality cases against children and people of color in 2012, Quarles knew that he could not sit idly by. By 2015, the number of police brutality killings continued to rise in major cities and in South Carolina, prompting Quarles to establish the Upstate Chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM).
Within BLM, he helped facilitate the process of launching the St. Louis BLM Chapter and traveled to speak at rallies, protests, and demonstrations across the country.
Subsequently, in 2015, Derrick was invited to the White House, where he was recognized as a "White House Champion of Change" because of his commitment to building bridges between youth and law enforcement.
Continuing as a community organizer and activist, Quarles was employed by the South Carolina Senate and provided consulting services to the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.
He has served on various political and social justice campaigns and was instrumental in protesting a voter suppression bill to aid South Carolina nonprofit organizations.
He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and has served on numerous boards including the South Carolina Department of Social Services Citizens Review Board, the Urban League of the Upstate Young Professionals Board, and countless others and has received a number of awards and recognition.
Additionally, he earned his Master of Public Administration degree from Grand Canyon University and has continued his studies at Indiana University, University of Michigan, and Jackson State University.
He is due to complete his Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education Administration at Jackson State University in January 2022.
Outside of work and accomplishing his educational goals, Quarles cherishes spending time with his family and friends, growing in his relationship with God, and inspiring his growing number of followers on social media.
DQ discussing Criminal Justice Reform with Congressman John Lewis
Invited to White House "Champions of Change - Building Bridges Between Youth and Law Enforcement" under Obama Administration
Standing in solidarity with Palestinian community