Black history, mid-Michigan gives back

Posted at 10:29 AM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 10:29:32-05

February is Black History Month - a time set aside to pay tribute to slaves, important figures in the Civil Rights Movement, and others in the African American community who are working to make a difference.

Mid-Michigan is rich with black history. Civil rights leader Rosa Parks settled in Detroit, Malcolm X lived here in Lansing, and Sojourner Truth is a Battle Creek native. Our state was also active in the Underground Railroad.

I sat down with Dr. William Anderson, D.O. who leads a black history lecture series at Michigan State University

"There are some stories that needed to be told," says Dr. Anderson.

For almost two decades now, the osteopathic doctor has been educating younger generations about the struggle to end segregation, through the Civil Rights Lecture Series at MSU.

Dr. Anderson's connection with black history doesn't end there, the Georgia native became friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. long before the Civil Rights Movement.

"They would come to my mother in laws home and practice their preaching ad nauseam," he says, "until at one point I said to Martin Luther King Jr., 'Why don't you just shut up?' and we laugh about that years later."

Dr. Anderson has civil rights credentials himself. He was a founder and leader of the Albany Movement, a civil rights struggle in 1960s Georgia.

He was also the first African American elected national president of the American Osteopathic Association.

He wants young people to keep black history in mind.

"If people do not know where they came from," says Dr. Anderson, "they cannot have a full appreciation for where they are now or what goals they have set for themselves."

And that's just what the Waverly High School Black Student Union is doing. The students focus on giving back.

"We're having like a 'Waverly Closet' where we donate clothes and resources to the kids within the Waverly Community's district," says senior Angel Hague.

For these young people, remembering the contributions of black leaders doesn't stop when February ends.

"It's very important to raise awareness and let people know the contributions that we have made to the world," says Hague.

It's a time to commemorate the past, and look to the future.