Civil rights leader William Anderson, D.O., addresses Paths of Excellence program

October 7, 2021  //  FOUND IN: News
Man in suit and mask talks with two students.
William Anderson, D.O., right, meets with U-M med students.

In late September, William Anderson, D.O., met with members of the U-M Medical School Paths of Excellence program.

Anderson discussed the challenges he surmounted prior to and after becoming one of the first Black physicians in Michigan, a civil rights leader and personal physician to Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson.

Anderson was born in 1927 as the grandson of slaves and served in the navy during World War II. After obtaining an undergraduate degree from Alabama State University, he graduated from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1949. After completing his residency in Flint, Michigan, he was initially prevented from treating patients due to segregationist policies.

He became a leader in the civil rights movement, taking part in hundreds of civil rights marches and was imprisoned. Anderson also supported protesters from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee which staged sit-ins at establishments across the south. He continues to teach at Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

At the recent event, Anderson was interviewed by Victor Agbafe, a second-year medical student enrolled in the Health Policy Path. During the discussion, Anderson shared insights into his happiness and success with the medical students. He emphasized the importance of finding a purpose; using medicine to help people rather than to make a profit; and making friends whenever possible.

He has also established a scholarship program that supports Black youth, the William G. Anderson, D.O., Minority Scholarship program, and welcomes contributions.