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The birth in 1933 of Dr. William F. Gibson, a Black dentist and community activist, is celebrated on this date.
He was born in Greenville, SC, the son of a brick mason and a schoolteacher. He became a dentist at Harlem Hospital in New York, returning to his hometown in 1959. While attending a voter registration meeting at Springfield Baptist Church in 1961, he decided to devote his life to civil rights. He organized the Black Council for Progress, which helped get Blacks into local and state political offices during the 1970s.
Gibson's commitment to voters' rights continued through his 1985 NAACP national board chairman election. Gibson took the NAACP differently during his tenure as chairman in the 1980s and 1990s. His work was centered on the principle that blacks become more actively involved in the nation's economy. Yet Gibson’s term as chairman of the NAACP was marred by allegations of contributing to the group's $3-million-plus deficit by abusing his expense account.
Gibson's role there ended in 1995 when he was forced out by one vote and replaced by Myrlie Evers-Williams. Although Gibson said he could account for nearly all the $111,930 in question as NAACP business, his 10-year tenure was also hampered by complaints about declining corporate donations and membership.
William Gibson died May 2, 2002, in Greenville, SC.