William G. Anderson
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William G. Anderson

Detroit Osteopathic
and Riverview Hospitals


William G Anderson

William G. Anderson, D.O., the son of John D. Anderson, Sr. and Emma Gilchrist Anderson, was born on December 12, 1927.

He is associate dean of the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine responsible for the development of osteopathic medical education programs for students, interns, and residents at Oakland General, Detroit Riverview, Macomb and St. John Hospitals.

He is a native of Americus, Georgia and completed his undergraduate degree at Alabama State College for Negroes in 1949. Dr. Anderson is a graduate of the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa and is certified in general surgery.

He began his professional career in Albany, Georgia, where he practiced for six years, following an internship at Flint Osteopathic Hospital in Flint, MI. During this time, he was a founder and first president of the Albany Movement, which spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement in southwest Georgia.

He subsequently completed his training at the Art Center Hospital in general surgery in Detroit, where he also conducted a group surgical practice until 1984.

Thereafter, he has been Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the Michigan Health Corporation, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Detroit Osteopathic Hospital, and Associate Director of Medical Education at Detroit Riverview Hospital.

Dr. Anderson has served on the board of the American Osteopathic Association, is past president of the Michigan and the Wayne County Osteopathic Associations, and previously served as president of the Michigan Osteopathic College Foundation. He is a member of the Detroit Medical Society, National Medical Society, and American College of Osteopathic Surgeons.

He is also a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a Trustee and chairman of the Properties Planning Committee of the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit.

Tape recorded interview;
Detroit, MI
16 June  1998
audio clip

Well, we probably want to move on to some of the more significant historical events that occurred from 1940 to about 1969. That could be political, or you can talk about segregation, or even the part that you played in the Civil Rights Movement. We would be very interested in hearing about that and those experiences.

R: Let me start to piece together these things of how I got involved in civil rights. I had no intentions in doing that. That was not in my long-range plans. Well, let me just interject before I piece together my civil rights experiences. When I went to Albany [GA] to practice, I was segregated twice. First, because I was black and second, because I was a DO. Because there was a city hospital in Albany, there were no private hospitals. There were no black hospitals in Albany, although it was bigger than Americus. So, I was denied hospital privileges, as were the other two black doctors in Albany. No black doctor had ever had any hospital privileges [in Albany, GA].

I: MD or otherwise?

R: MD or otherwise, right. There were a few other DO's in town, only [two of us] black. [We were] segregated twice. But when I got to Albany, I just sort of assumed some privileges. I just started putting patients in the hospital and was writing the orders, until I was called into the office of the administrator and he said, "Oh, by the way, we don't have any record of you applying for privileges." I said, "Apply for privileges? But I'm a doctor." He said, "No, no, no. You've got to go through the process." Well, to make a long story short, he just said, "No DO's are ever permitted on [staff] here." He didn't say we never had a black on the staff, or we don't permit blacks on the staff. He just said, "You don't meet the criteria for membership." So, I had my practice in my office. But, now going back to 1949, when I went to Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama State College for Negroes as it was called, I have now been married for two years. I married into a family that was very close to the family of [Dr.] Martin Luther King, Jr. My wife's brother and Martin Luther King, Jr. were classmates in high school. They were ace buddies and ran around together.

I: What was her brother's name?

R: It was James. James Madison Dixon.

I: And your wife's name?

R: Norma Lee Dixon. They were very close, so that I met Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was a senior in high school and he would visit my mother-in-law's home, regularly. I would have to listen to him practicing his preaching, regularly. But we developed a friendship then, because of that relationship with my wife's brother. We maintained contact with each other for several years thereafter. He and I even started a couple of little projects [at] Morehouse College and I was still living in Atlanta. He and I started a youth chapter of the NAACP on the campus of Morehouse, and he and I began to get active in the community. It wasn't civil rights in those days. We were just community activists. But, then I went to Alabama and he went on [to further his education]. After his finishing [from] Morehouse, he went on to Boston.

It was coincidental that while I was in Montgomery that I met [Rev.] Ralph Abernathy who did not know Martin Luther King, Jr. He had no knowledge of him, because this was prior to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. But, the coincidence that is striking even to me, is that I would form a fast friendship with these two people who [would later] become key figures in the Civil Rights Movement. As a matter of fact, I became such a close friend of Abernathy that he became the godfather of my oldest daughter. He probably stayed at my house more than I did in Montgomery, because I was working. I was going to class and to my job and very often he would eat my dinner and my wife would have to cook again, because she really loved him. I mean, he was like a part of the family. Ralph Abernathy was part of my family.



William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young





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Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
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