MACON, Ga .– Dr. William D. Anderson, president of the Albany Movement, a coalition of activists including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, who campaigned for an end to segregation in Albany, Georgia, were guest speakers for the presentation of the U.S. Attorney’s Black History Month for the Middle District of Georgia, which occurred virtually on February 17th.
Anderson was elected President of the Albany Movement in 1961. In 1963 he was charged, along with other leaders of the Albany Movement, with conspiracy to injure a juror. These allegations came from a 1963 Albany grocer picket line who was serving on a juror on a case in which the sheriff was acquitted of the murder of a black man. Albany leaders claimed they would paint the shop because black employees weren’t promoted, but the owner believed it was retaliation. The case led to a lawsuit. Anderson was later brought before a federal judge in Detroit, Michigan, where he lived and served as a practicing doctor and surgeon.
“The judge said I spent 20 years in federal prison for forced labor,” said Anderson. “But then he took a deep breath and said, ‘However. ‘And what followed was to suspend that sentence and put myself on parole. It was death and resurrection. Death – when he announced I had been in federal prison for 20 years. Resurrection – when he put me on probation. So it ended. I was never recalled and never had to be in federal prison one day. “
“You can’t always argue with fate. I was proud to be part of the Albany Movement, ”said Anderson.
“DR. Anderson embodies leadership and commitment to justice and has been wrongly prosecuted by this office for his role in the Albany Civil Rights Movement,” said acting US attorney Peter D. Leary. “There is what the law is , and then there is what is right. In an ideal world, these two principles are consistent, but they do not always line up, as is the case with Dr. Anderson. Our office should never have prosecuted this great man. We are eternally grateful to Dr. Anderson for sharing his life story with our office and for dedicating his life to serving civil rights for all. “
Anderson was presented with a certificate of “courage, leadership, and commitment to justice” from the US Attorney’s Office. He continues to be a key figure in the fight for American civil rights and was instrumental in creating the “Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey” series of lectures at Michigan State University. The civil rights icon, a retired osteopathic physician, was the first black surgeon in Detroit and the first black president of the American Osteopathic Association. Anderson, 93, lives in Michigan.