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Wed, 03.18.1925

William F. Reid, Doctor, Politician, and Activist born

William Reid

*William F. Reid was born on this date in 1925.  He is a Black physician, politician, and activist.  

William Ferguson "Fergie" Reid was born in Richmond, VA., the son of dentist Leon Reid and his wife. He grew up in a house next door to the banker and activist Maggie L. Walker at 110 Leigh Street in Richmond's Jackson Ward.  In 1941 Reid graduated from Armstrong High School, and in 1946 he received his bachelor's degree from Virginia Union University. He earned his medical degree from Howard University and served his internship and residency as a surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri.  

Reid served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy during the Korean War. Returning to Richmond, he served on the staff of Richmond Memorial Hospital, Richmond Community Hospital, Retreat for the Sick, Medical College of Virginia, and St. Mary's Hospital. His professional associations included the American College of Surgeons, Richmond Academy of Medicine, Richmond Medical Society, Medical Society of Virginia, Old Dominion Medical Society, American Medical Association, and the National Medical Association. He became a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery in 1955.

Reid co-founded the Richmond Crusade for Voters.  The Crusade had been formed in 1955 to register more voters to combat the racist politics driven by the era of "massive resistance," Southern strategy to stop the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings that public schools be desegregated.  Reid, John Mitchell Brooks, and Dr. William S. Thornton began meeting daily at the old Slaughter's Hotel.  The outgrowth of these strategy sessions was the Crusade.   Despite the Crusade for Voters' continuing growth in influence, Reid's first two candidacies for public office failed. In 1965, he was 7th among the eight candidates seeking the five seats in the Virginia House of Delegates representing Richmond (part-time positions).

In 1968, Reid became the first Black elected to the Virginia Assembly since Reconstruction.  He won re-election twice and replaced segregationist T. Coleman Andrews Jr., who would support the presidential candidacy of George C. Wallace of Alabama.   Reid would serve three terms.  Although Reid was the only Black in the General Assembly when he took office in 1968, in 2000, there were fifteen.  After his final term as delegate ended, he accepted a position as a regional medical officer with the U.S. State Department. Reid and his wife eventually moved to Chevy Chase, Maryland. Their daughters and son (William Ferguson Reid Jr.) became physicians, with the daughters practicing in Maryland and New Jersey and their son in California. 

Reid is active in his Episcopal Church and the Salvation Army, as well as with Omega Psi Phi. and became a 32nd-degree Mason. His activism continued from a distance, as the Crusade for Voters helped win a Black majority on Richmond's City Council and elected the city's first Black mayor in 1977.  In honor of Reid's 90th birthday, in 2015 in Chesterfield County, Virginia, the 90 for 90 voter registration goal based on door-to-door volunteer canvassing began. The 90 for 90 voter outreach programs spread throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.   

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