Interview with Dr. William Anderson


Dr. William G. Anderson:

Albany was a typical small town in Georgia. Well, Albany was not as small of course as many towns. Albany at that time had nearly 50,000 people. So it's not small by rural Georgia small town standards where the population may be as low as 500. But I'm saying that Albany was a semi-rural community and a lot of the industry was at least in part dependent upon farming. There was very little industry. It was a rather close-knit town in that people knew each other. It was a totally segregated town. Blacks held no positions in any of the stores downtown as salespersons, clerks or what have you. Of course, there were no black policemen, blacks held no political office. As a matter of fact they weren't even called blacks. They were called Negroes by the ones who were more liberal and benevolent, and they were called more unsavory things by others. You couldn't say that it was a community where you could experience racial harmony. The interplay or interaction was non-existent. And most of the people who had lived in Albany all of their lives had sort of come to accept things as they were. Or at least there was no outward expression of opposition to things as they were. So Albany was not unlike thousands of other towns of that size or smaller, dotted throughout the South, where you had a total segregation of the—of the races. You had a community that was, that primarily was dependent upon the farm industry to some extent or another. You had a community that blacks who were employed were employed in the service industries with very few professionals. The only professionals you could find would be school teachers, ministers and very few doctors. At the time that the Albany Movement started there was fortunately a black lawyer. This was a rarity of course in a town of that size in Georgia.