Gloria Anderson: Her decades long fight for Civil Rights
By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
Gloria Anderson, a native of Leon County, is a homegrown passionate civil rights activist. She was educated in the Leon County Public Schools at the rural Barrow Hill Elementary and Junior High School that required her to be bussed 20 miles roundtrip daily to attend a segregated school. She is a graduate of the Old Lincoln High School; and received a BS degree in Public Administration, Political Science, and History, and a MS degree in Adult and Community Education from Florida A&M University. She started her career as a secretary at FAMU in 1970, and left employment in Adult Education in 1984 at FAMU to accept a position with the City of Tallahassee. She retired from her position as the Director of the City’s Smith-Williams Service Center after 18 ½ years of services.
Throughout her career, she was a devoted activist in the Tallahassee Civil Rights movement. Gloria became interested in civil rights while still in high school in the early 1960s. Her inspiration came from her high school teacher, Mrs. Christine Knowles, who was also the secretary for Rev. C.K. Steele Sr., Pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, President of the Inter-Civic Council of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (ICC-SCLC), and one of the founders of the SCLC with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. She was so inspired by local civil rights leaders of that period that she became an active, unafraid teen participant in local marches, sit-ins, demonstrations, mass meetings, and court hearings to call attention to the inequitable treatment of Black residents in Leon County and the country.
She has remained an active member of the ICC-SCLC, and for over 40 years has been just as actively involved with the local Women of SCLC organization; with the national organization led by wives of SCLC founders and female civil rights leaders that included Coretta Scott King, Lois Brock Steele, Rosa Parks, Juanita Abernathy, and Evelyn Lowery. Among Gloria’s local heroes was the late Laura Dixie. Both the national and local Women of SCLC organizations focused on positive programs to support youth, the elderly, and community improvement. And after many years working behind the scenes in the shadows of more prominent leaders, Gloria became the local convener for the Tallahassee Women of SCLC which today recognizes and supports women who continue to advocate for local policies and programs that ensure equal, fair treatment for all citizens.
She remembers vividly that while on an errand for one of her high school teachers, she learned that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. She was the one who alerted her teacher, who in turn alerted the principal that our President had been killed. It was a sad, dark day for us all; and like others from that era, it is a day we will never forget.
Gloria continues to be a passionate civil rights activist while volunteering on a wide range of non-profit boards and committees since her retirement. She is, also, an active member of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. She was married to the late Bernard C. Anderson Sr. for 46 years, and is the proud parent of three adult children and three wonderful grandchildren. She is, also, Person of the Week for the Capital Outlook Newspaper.
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