Black History Month: Medical & Civil Rights Pioneer Dr. William G. Anderson

He has been a ground-breaking osteopathic physician and a champion for equal rights. He was the first Black osteopathic physician to become a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the first Black physician to become president of the AOA.

Albany Movement led by Dr. William G. Anderson

Born in 1927 in Americus, Georgia, Anderson came from a family considered to be middle class in his community. His father was an insurance salesman, and his mother was an elementary school teacher.  At a fairly young age, Anderson expressed a desire to become a physician. However, his goal was not encouraged because this career was considered at the time unobtainable for a Black man.  He initially attended Fort Valley State College. By this time, he had already worked as a bellhop, a bartender, a farmhand, and a laborer. 

He joined the Navy as World War II was ending. After returning from the Navy, he met and married Norma Dixon and moved to Atlanta where he attended Atlanta College of Mortuary Science. After graduation, he moved to Montgomery Alabama, and began working as a mortician. He continued this career after moving to Atlanta. It was here that, after a chance meeting with a Black osteopathic physician, he finally launched his medical career.

Eventually, he was able to attend Des Moines University and graduate with a certification in surgery. After graduation and a Michigan internship, he moved to Albany, Georgia to establish his practice. While in Albany, he became active in civil rights and founded the Albany Movement, a civil rights organization focused on ending segregation within the community.  The organization drew the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King and other leaders who came to Albany to offer their support and assistance. Dr. Anderson literally participated in scores of marches for civil rights. 

He and his wife, Norma L. Anderson, eventually authored a book about their lives and experiences entitled Autobiographies of a Black Couple of the Greatest Generation.

Contributed by Adrian Clark, Diversity and Inclusion Officer

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