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William G. Anderson (b. 1927)



William G. Anderson (b. 1927)


Encyclopedia article about William Gilchrist Anderson, who received national attention during the early 1960s as the president of the Albany Movement. Thereafter, he distinguished himself as an osteopathic physician, surgeon, educator, and hospital administrator. Born in Americus on December 12, 1927, to Emma Jean Gilchrist and John Daniel Anderson Sr., Anderson enrolled at Fort Valley State College (later Fort Valley State University), where he pursued a premedical course of study. His education was interrupted in 1944 when, at the age of seventeen, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the midst of World War II; he was eventually assigned to a company stationed in the Philippines and was selected to join the navy's Hospital Corpsmen. After the war ended, Anderson graduated from the Atlanta College of Mortuary Science and worked briefly at a black funeral home in Montgomery, Alabama. Later after a visit to the Albany office of physician Willie Joe Reese, Anderson decided to pursue a career in osteopathy. With Reese's assistance, Anderson was admitted to the Des Moines Still College of Osteopathy in Iowa and completed his degree in 1956., He interned at the prestigious Flint Osteopathic Hospital in Michigan, returning to Georgia afterwards to set up his medical practice in Albany. There Anderson joined a small but close-knit community of black professionals, most of whom belonged to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Urban League, or the Criterion Club, a local civic organization. The arrival of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists in the fall of 1961 inspired Albany's black residents to press more aggressively for racial reform. The city's black leaders formed the Albany Movement in mid-November, and they selected Anderson as their president because he was relatively new to town and largely insulated from white economic reprisals by his private practice. As tensions escalated he became convinced that local leaders lacked the financial and organizational resources to mount a successful protest. In order to shore up the movement's weaknesses, Anderson invited his old friends Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy to lead demonstrations in Albany. Although many observers deemed the Albany Movement unsuccessful, subsequent appraisals have credited the movement with increasing the number of registered black voters, inspiring protest in neighboring communities, and hastening the ultimate desegregation of Albany's public facilities, which occurred only one year following the movement's conclusion. Following the Albany Movement's dissolution in 1962, Anderson accepted an appointment as house physician at Art Centre Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. In 1964 he became the first black surgical resident in Detroit's history, and thereafter conducted a group surgical practice in the city until 1984. During this period he remained active in the civil rights movement, serving as a member on the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's board of directors, among other capacities., In the years that followed, Anderson accepted a variety of administrative and educational positions in the medical profession including service within the American Osteopathic Association (including becoming the first African American president of the AOA in 1994), as a clinical professor of surgery at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (later Western University of Health Sciences) in California, as an associate clinical professor at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and as associate dean of the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri., The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

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Bibliographic Citation

Cite as: "[article name]," New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved [date]:


Hatfield, Edward A.




New Georgia Encyclopedia (Project)

Spatial Coverage

United States, Georgia, Dougherty County, Albany, 31.57851, -84.15574, United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798, United States, Alabama, Montgomery County, Montgomery, 32.36681, -86.29997, United States, Alabama, Montgomery County, 32.2202579, -86.2076143, United States, Michigan, Wayne County, Detroit, 42.331427, -83.0457538, United States, Missouri, Adair County, Kirksville, 40.1947539, -92.5832496, United States, Iowa, Polk County, Des Moines, 41.6005448, -93.6091064, United States, Iowa, Polk County, 41.6855048, -93.5735335, Philippines, 12.7503486, 122.7312101, United States, Georgia, Sumter County, Americus, 32.07239, -84.23269


African American physicians--Georgia--Albany
African American physicians--Michigan--Detroit
African American educators
African American surgeons
Osteopathic physicians--United States
Osteopathic physicians--Georgia
Physicians--United States
Surgeons--United States
Educators--United States
Medical offices--Georgia--Albany
Medical offices--Michigan--Detroit
African American business enterprises--Georgia--Albany
Fort Valley State College (Ga.)
United States. Navy
United States. Navy. Hospital Corps
Sailors--United States
African American sailors--United States
African American sailors--Philippines
United States. Navy--Medical care
Atlanta College of Mortuary Science
Undertakers and undertaking--Georgia--Atlanta
Undertakers and undertaking--Alabama--Montgomery
Still College of Osteopathy
Flint Osteopathic Hospital (Mich.)
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Urban League of Albany (Ga.)
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
American Osteopathic Association
College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific
Michigan State University. College of Osteopathic Medicine
Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
Civil rights--Georgia--Albany
Civil rights--United States
Civil rights movements--Georgia--Albany
Civil rights demonstrations--Georgia--Albany
Bus terminals--Georgia--Albany
Civil rights workers--Georgia--Albany
Civil rights workers--United States
Civic leaders--Georgia--Albany
Civic leaders--United States
African American civil rights workers--Georgia--Albany
African American civic leaders--Georgia--Albany
African American political activists--Georgia--Albany
Political activists--Georgia--Albany
African Americans--Civil rights
African Americans--Civil rights--Georgia--Albany
Political participation--Georgia--Albany
African Americans--Politics and government
Direct action--Georgia--Albany
Protest marches--Georgia--Albany
Voter registration--Georgia--Albany
Segregation in education--Georgia--Albany
Segregation in transportation--Georgia--Albany
Discrimination in public accommodations--Georgia--Albany
Discrimination in restaurants--Georgia--Albany
Race discrimination--Georgia--Albany
Race relations
Albany (Ga.)--Race relations--History--20th century
Albany (Ga.)--History--20th century
Albany (Ga.)--Politics and government--20th century
High school teachers--Georgia--Atlanta
African American teachers--Georgia--Atlanta
African American disc jockeys--Georgia-Atlanta
Disc jockeys--Georgia--Atlanta
African American professional employees--United States
African American professional employees--Georgia--Albany
Professional employees--United States
Professional employees--Georgia--Albany
Albany Movement (Albany
Harlem Cut-Rate Drugs (Albany
World War
1939-1945--African Americans
World War
World War
1939-1945--Medical care
Criterion Club (Albany
Art Centre Hospital (Detroit
William G.
Norma L. (Norma Lee)
Willie Joe
Martin Luther