Biographical / Historical
Charles W. Anderson Jr. began a successful law practice in Louisville, Kentucky in 1933. Son of a Frankfort, Kentucky physician and well-known school teacher, he was graduated from Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute (Kentucky State University) in 1925 and 1926 and Wilberforce University (1928) and earned a law degree from Howard University in 1933. Quickly rising in Louisville political circles, Anderson, a Republican, was elected in 1935 to the Kentucky House of Representative, as the first African-American state legislator in the entire South except under post-Civil War Reconstruction. Serving six consecutive terms, he successfully guided historic bills through the House, becoming a watchdog for Kentucky’s Black citizens during a time of blatant racial segregation. Anderson secured legislation that repealed the state’s notorious public hanging law, that required each rural county to guarantee its Black youths access to high school even if it meant providing transportation and tuition costs to another jurisdiction, and, in the same vein, that provided a state stipend to African-American graduate students who had to pursue their degrees out-of-state. Early on, Representative Anderson led the push to require the all-white University of Kentucky to admit Black graduate students, a cause that was ultimately successful in 1948. In addition, he passed laws equalizing the pay of Black and white teachers, establishing African-American units in the previously all-white Kentucky National Guard, and preventing discrimination in state contracts and private business. He was unsuccessful banning discrimination on the state’s public carriers but, on an issue that impacted both races, he secured a law that allowed all women public school teachers to keep their positions after marriage.
Anderson resigned his legislative seat in 1946 to receive appointment as an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney (prosecutor), the first African-American to serve in that role in a southern state. In 1949, he was narrowly defeated as a Republican in a campaign for judge(magistrate) and came up short again in 1953. Throughout his entire public career, Charles W. Anderson Jr. was a popular speaker, author of articles for news, legal and fraternal publications (an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity throughout his life), fighter for racial justice, Republican party booster, and a successful attorney who took on routine legal cases as well as more complex civil rights litigation. He served as President of the Louisville NAACP, President of the National Bar Association, and in 1959 was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower as an Alternate Delegate to the United Nations. For many years, Anderson worked as General Counsel for the Kentucky Congress of Barbers and Beauticians.
Anderson was married to Atlanta native Anne Rucker, librarian at Kentucky State University, from 1939 – 1946 and to school teacher Victoria McCall of Detroit from 1948 until his death in 1960. Charles and Victoria had two children: Charles W. Anderson III and Victoria “Toto” Anderson Pinderhughes. Attorney Anderson was killed in June, 1960 at age fifty-three when his car was struck by a passenger train near Bagdad in Shelby County, Kentucky.