GREEN, WILLIAM (1890–1984). William Green, African-American physician and community leader, son of Richard and Annie Green, was born on August 28, 1890, in Louisiana. He was the youngest of four siblings. The farming family moved to Terrell in Kaufman County, Texas. Green pursued his education and eventually graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1914. He returned to Texas and opened a medical practice in Kaufman. With America’s entry into World War I, on June 5, 1917, Green registered for the draft.
As early as 1924 Green had a limited practice out of Dallas’s McMillan Sanatorium. He maintained an arduous work schedule throughout his life. In a 1974 interview he recalled, “I would come to the office at 8 a.m. and see patients until about midday. Then I would leave to make house calls, and return to work until 9 p.m.” These house calls were initially made on horseback, but shortly after arriving in Dallas, Green acquired an automobile. His increased mobility also saddled him with more responsibility as the range of his house calls extended to a 100-mile radius and included places as distant as Tyler, Texas. These demands led to Green’s inability to make connections with the African-American community in Dallas, as displayed in a 1925 article in the Dallas Express. Although Green’s skill was praised, the name of this “visiting doctor from Kaufman” was spelled as “Greene.”
Green permanently moved to Dallas in 1926. By February of that year, the Dallas Express announced Green’s practice and also reported that he was on the board of directors for the newly-formed Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce (now Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce). By March 1926 Green had his house moved from Kaufman and established his residence at 2907 Cochran. Later that month, his membership with the Dallas Negro Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association enabled him to perform health lectures at El Bethel Church and the York School in celebration of National Negro Health Week. From 1926 to 1929 Green continued to practice both from his office at 3313 Thomas and the McMillan Sanatorium.
In 1929, while the citizens of Dallas fought over economic policy, Green worked with the politically-independent Dallas mayor, J. “Waddy” Tate, to maintain balance. In order to relieve tensions, Tate named Dallas’s first “negro mediator,” William L. Dickson, to form a committee of black professionals to build “Co-operation and friendly relation” with Dallas’s white population. Included in the list of black professionals was Green. Through the process of successful negotiation, a new African-American clinic was proposed almost two months later. The clinic was to participate with Briggs Hall Haven Vocational School for Negroes and be staffed by Green and six other black doctors.
When the election passed, the clinic was not built, but Green built his own clinic at 3205 Thomas Avenue. On the property was an existing church which Green donated to church members provided they move it off the property. After church members moved the structure, he began construction of what would become known as the Green building.
The Green building, completed in 1930, became a home for doctors to establish themselves before moving on to start their own practices. Although the Negro Chamber of Commerce had an office in his building, times were still economically tight for Green. According to Green, a main reason for this difficulty was due to his clients’ inability to pay. This was an economic situation that drew Green’s empathy. “It wasn’t so much for the money, although I had to have some, but the people just didn’t have much money then,” he recalled. Green might deliver as many as three babies and “just maybe I would get paid for one,” but he “never turned a patient away because they couldn’t pay.” Throughout the depression, Green recalled that he “waited on everybody I could, and I don’t think you’ll find a person in Dallas who would say that I’ve ever sent a patient a dun [or bill].” As time progressed, his heavy dedication to an impoverished clientele that included whites, Hispanics, and blacks, consumed much of his time.
Green’s activities took a physical toll on him as early as 1947 when he stopped making house calls because he “had to cut it out because my doctors told me that I was killing myself.” After some sixty years of practicing medicine, however, Green was still hard at work in the mid-1970s. At that time Dallas Morning News columnist Julia Scott Reed described him as “perhaps the oldest black doctor in Dallas still practicing.” Green served as a member and trustee for the Salem Baptist Church. He was a life member of the NAACP, the first president of the Century Club, active in the Moorland branch of the YMCA, and a member of the Omega fraternity. William Green died on February 28, 1984.
Dallas Express, February 27, 1926; March 6, 27, 1926; May 23, 1926. Dallas Morning News, July 21, 1929; September 26, 1929; February, 14, 1974; March 1, 1984.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Andy Galloway, "Green, William ," accessed February 14, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgrbr.
Uploaded on April 24, 2013. Modified on May 21, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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