William G. Anderson, D.O., the son of
John D. Anderson, Sr. and Emma Gilchrist Anderson, was
born on December 12, 1927.
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.
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.
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.
completed his training at the Art Center Hospital in
general surgery in Detroit, where he also conducted
a group surgical practice until 1984.
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.
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
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.
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.
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].
MD or otherwise?
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.
What was her brother's name?
was James. James Madison Dixon.
And your wife's name?
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.
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.