Powerful words

Civil rights activist William G. Anderson, DO, addresses DOs at the AOA’s HOD

Dr. Anderson encouraged the audience to leave the world a better place than they found it and to make as much of an impact as possible.


Legendary osteopathic physician and civil rights leader William G. Anderson, DO, recently addressed the crowd at the AOA’s annual House of Delegates meeting in July. Dr. Anderson previously served as the AOA’s first Black president from 1994 to 1995. He was also a member of the AOA’s Board of Trustees for two decades.

Watch the full speech in the video below.

Dr. Anderson was introduced by AOA Immediate Past President Ernest R. Gelb, DO, who described Dr. Anderson as a “lifelong friend of this profession.”

Reflecting on his journey to becoming a DO, Dr. Anderson shared that his parents did not have much hope for their son realizing his dream of becoming a physician.

“There was no such thing as a Black physician in my town, certainly not a Black osteopathic physician,” he said. “So I had some work to do.”

Despite the myriad obstacles Dr. Anderson faced, he remained determined to become a DO and to help the communities that needed it most. At one time, Dr. Anderson was the only Black DO in the entire state of Georgia. Of his resilience, he said, “If you do not give me a challenge, you’re not going to get the best out of me.”

In addition to his work as a physician and involvement with the AOA, Dr. Anderson also served in the United States military and is a published author. He shared that his next book, written in collaboration with the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, is expected to be published by the end of this year.

Among his many supporters, Dr. Anderson specifically named and thanked his wife and partner of 60 years, Norma, and his parents, as well as civil rights giants Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., PhD, and Rev. Ralph David Abernathy.

Dr. Anderson, using humor throughout his address, encouraged the audience to leave the world a better place than they found it and to make as much of an impact as possible. He sang his praises to the DOs present and made it clear to the audience how proud he is to be among their ranks.

Learn more about Dr. Anderson, his prolific career and his countless achievements in previous articles featured in The DO:

Civil rights trailblazer William G. Anderson, DO, on his journey to medicine, leading Albany Movement

Civil rights leader William G. Anderson, DO, shares more details about his life and upbringing

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