William F. Penn

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William F. Penn
William f Penn 1902.jpg
William Penn
Born(1871-01-16)January 16, 1871
DiedMay 31, 1934(1934-05-31) (aged 63)
Known forFounding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Mentioned as speaking at opening of Joyland Park

William Fletcher Penn (January 16, 1871 in New Glasgow, Amherst County, Virginia – May 31, 1934) was a prominent black physician in Atlanta, Georgia and a founding member of the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).[1]

As a child Penn attended public schools in Lynchburg, Virginia and then Hampton Institute and Virginia Normal and Industrial School. He first attended medical school at Leonard Medical School for Blacks in Raleigh, North Carolina before being invited to attend Yale Medical School in 1893. He graduated in 1897, the first African-American to do so, as well as the first African-American to head the university yearbook.[2][3]

In 1898 he met and later married Lula Tompkins, taking her son, Louis T. Wright, as his step-son. Penn had a significant influence on Wright, who also pursued a career in medicine, graduating fourth in his class at Harvard Medical School and serving as the first African-American surgeon on staff at the Harlem Hospital.[2]

Penn was a founding member of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP in 1917, a national organization for which his stepson Louis would later serve as chairman.

He is mentioned as a speaker at a meeting of city leaders in the aftermath of the Atlanta Race Riot in 1906, and in 1921 at the opening of Joyland, the first amusement park opened for blacks in Atlanta.


  1. ^ Mason, Herman (1997). Black Atlanta in the Roaring Twenties. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780752408873.
  2. ^ a b Reynolds, P. Preston (June 2000). "Dr. Louis T. Wright and the NAACP: Pioneers in Hospital Racial Integration". American Journal of Public Health. 90 (6): 883–892. doi:10.2105/AJPH.90.6.883. PMC 1446256.
  3. ^ Geraldine Rhoades Beckford Biographical Dictionary of American Physicians of African Ancestry, 1800-1920, p. 251