Special to the Journal
On April 4, Dr. William Anderson, a doctor of osteopathic medicine who spearheaded the Albany Civil Rights Movement in 1961, will deliver the keynote address at the Albany State University Founder’s Day Convocation in the HPER Gymnasium at 10 a.m.
The convocation will precede several other Founder’s Day activities that include a service at the founder’s grave site located at the end of the pedestrian walkway on the lower campus, an alumni luncheon at noon in Orene Hall, the alumni business meeting at 2 p.m. in Peace Hall, a special dedication ceremony at the National Alumni Association Complex on Sylvester Road at 5 p.m. and the Blue and Gold Spring Football Game at 6 p.m. at the ASU Coliseum.
Situated as the key piece of the university’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration of the Albany Civil Rights Movement, ASU’s 2011 Founder’s Day program will recognize the tremendous sacrifices of the heroes of the Albany Movement.
Dr. Anderson, a native of Americus, Ga., completed his residency in Flint, Mich. in 1957 and relocated to Albany, where he began his professional medical career. During his six years of practice in Albany, stringent segregationist policies and the racist attitudes of local citizens limited his ability to treat patients. In response, Dr. Anderson joined the Albany Movement and was elected as the group’s president.
A long-time family friend and childhood neighbor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Anderson organized and participated in protests and other activities that are credited with increasing the number of registered black voters, inspiring civic consciousness in Albany and protests in neighboring communities. The Albany Movement has also been noted for hastening the ultimate desegregation of Albany’s public facilities, which occurred only one year after the movement’s conclusion.
After the Albany Movement, Anderson accepted an appointment as house physician at the Art Centre Hospital in Detroit, Mich. 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 that period he remained active in the Civil Rights Movement, serving as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s board of directors and in other capacities.
In the years that followed, Anderson accepted a variety of administrative and educational positions in the medical profession. He served as the chairman of the American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA) Department of Education Affairs, as an advisor to the Michigan Health Care Education and Research Foundation, 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. Anderson also served as a member of the AOA board of directors for 18 years. In 1994 he became the first African American to serve as president of the AOA. 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.
Dr. Anderson, the son of John D. Anderson and Emma Gilchrist, rose from humble roots to create an illustrious professional career. He completed his undergraduate degree at Alabama State College for Negroes in 1949 and is a graduate of the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa, and is certified in general surgery.