Anderson, William

Dr. William Anderson was born December 12, 1927:  there is no actual record of his birth, but that is the date that he and his adoptive parents chose.  His parents were from Moultrie and Cordele respectively, and their family histories had only recently emerged from the yoke of slavery.  The young William knew these people growing up – a generation once removed from slavery – and he learned to appreciate their innate intelligence and intuition, traits that pushed him to become a physician.  Both of his parents preached the value of education too, both having attended college at a time when that was uncommon.  William was 14 when the Pearl Harbor attack took place, and when his time came later in the war, he decided to volunteer, choosing the US Navy.  He was assigned to a ship in the 7th Fleet, bound for the Pacific.  They came under Japanese fire and kamikaze attacks several times, and William served as an ammo loader on one of the guns.  When they were in the Philippines as the war was coming to an end a call was put out for personnel with medical experience, and William volunteered.  There he became a corpsman, and a Hospital Apprentice, First Class, and he learned to be a doctor “in about six weeks”, as he recalls.  With all that experience it was difficult for him to get the education he wanted after the war though, and he got a degree in mortuary science, and later gained entry to Alabama State College, where Ralph Abernathy was a classmate.  He met Norma Dixon during this time, and the two married and began their family.  Norma’s younger brother was in high school, and one of his good friends was the young Martin Luther King, who William met at this time.  From there different connections helped to take William to his goal, and he was admitted to the Des Moines College of Osteopathic Medicine where he earned his medical degree.  William returned to Albany, Georgia, and witnessing the realities of Jim Crow at this stage of his life pushed him to be involved, and he became one of the founders of the Albany Movement, along with King and Abernathy.  They regularly held demonstrations and meetings, being arrested and subjected to threats from the KKK.  They stood their ground, and change came, and Dr. Anderson reminds us that this is an ongoing obligation – and one that he continues to actively pursue at the age of 96.  Crestwood students from the Social Justice and history and politics courses had the opportunity to zoom with Dr. Anderson during Black History Month in February 2024.