The Remarkable Story Of Dr. William Finlayson A Classmate Of Martin Luther King Jr

The Remarkable Story Of Dr. William Finlayson A Classmate Of Martin Luther King Jr Who Became The First Black OBGYN At St. Joseph’s Hospital In Milwaukee

Overcoming Racial Barriers to Pursue Medicine

Dr. William E. Finlayson was born in 1924 in Florida during a time of intense racial inequality and discrimination. Yet from a young age, he was determined to get an education and succeed in spite of the obstacles.

Finlayson attended the historically Black Florida A&M University, later serving in the Army during WWII. He then transferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta where he became classmates with Martin Luther King Jr.

After graduating from Morehouse, Finlayson earned his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in 1953. At the time, over 150 medical schools in the country excluded Black students. But Meharry continued opening doors for African American physicians when others would not.

Milwaukee Community Pillar

In 1958, Dr. Finlayson chose to establish his OBGYN practice in Milwaukee, WI. He co-founded a medical clinic on 5th and North, later moving to a bustling office on 20th and Capitol. During almost 40 years of delivering babies in Milwaukee, Finlayson brought over 10,000 lives into the world.

But his civic impact extended even beyond the delivery room. Dr. Finlayson made history as the first-ever Black OBGYN at St. Joseph’s Hospital, breaking barriers within Milwaukee’s healthcare institutions.

He also co-founded North Milwaukee State Bank in 1971 which served the community for over 40 years with Finlayson chairing the Board for 26 years.

Visionary Leadership and Mentorship

Now almost 100 years old, Dr. William Finlayson continues to inspire future generations with his trailblazing career. Local leaders recently succeeded in their efforts to name a portion of 5th Street in Milwaukee as “Dr. William Finlayson Street” in his honor.

When asked his advice for young people, Finlayson stressed the importance of education and determination: “Learn as much as you can, do as much as you can!”

For over half a century, Dr. Finlayson has embodied those words, cementing his legacy as a physician, entrepreneur, and tireless community leader in Milwaukee.