Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Black physician helped bring in change
On Monday, people across the nation will be celebrating the life and accomplishments of one of the great names in American history. Dr. Martin Luther King was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States, and even though he did not live to see his work come to fruition, his leadership and passion inspired many others to continue what he started and take notice of the racial inequality in the United States.
Many people across the country followed King and other civil rights leaders as they fought for equality through civil disobedience, marches, protests and more. Others had worked to improve the lives of African-Americans for years before the civil rights movement began. One of those people was Dr. Charles A. Dudley, one of Victoria's first black physicians and the namesake of Dudley Elementary School.
According to the Texas Historical Association, Dudley was born in Waskom in 1894, graduated from high school in Marshall and attended college at Bishop College in Dallas. He completed his medical training in 1923 and moved to Victoria in 1924 to take over the practice of a cousin who was moving to San Antonio.
During his lifetime, Dudley worked to promote education for black people in Victoria. He worked with teachers at F.W. Gross High School to provide materials and equipment the school board didn't supply, and he organized a primarily black athletics council in 1940 to provide a fence, shrubs, grass and cement walkways. He also was a member of the American Legion Citizens Committee, the Victoria Chapter of the State Progressive League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During the civil rights struggle, he worked with Thurgood Marshall, an NAACP attorney who would go on to become a United States Supreme Court justice.
We are proud to know that someone so dedicated to education and social justice was also a member of our community. Dudley died in 1975, but his legacy lives on in Victoria and our nation. To honor that legacy, this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day walk will celebrate both King and Dudley. We encourage everyone to come out to this event and take part in a celebration that honors people who fought for their rights.
The walk begins at 10 a.m. Monday in the 1300 block of East Crestwood Drive and ends at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 4102 N. Ben Jordan St, where a celebration service will feature guest speakers and skits performed by students from Victoria elementary schools.
We hope all of our readers take the time to honor King, Dudley and the innumerable others who led the effort for education and equality in our society. Their work paved the way for many more future successes.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.