Clinton E. Warner, Jr., MD
Civil Rights Giant, Activist, Humanitarian, Physician, Author, Philosopher
July 11, 1924 – June 30, 2012
Dr. Clinton E. Warner, Jr. was born on July 11, 1924 to educators Mr. Clinton Ellsworth Warner, Sr. and Mrs. Mabel Hubert Warner. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on the campus of Morehouse College in Graves Hall.
He attended elementary school at the Training School at Arkansas State College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He graduated from East Depot High School in LaGrange, Georgia in 1940. Always identifying with the distinguished Morehouse College class of 1944, Warner’s post-secondary education was interrupted by the onset of World War II. He served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1946 and participated in the Omaha Beach Operative, one of the sectors of the Allied D-Day invasions of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings. Warner returned home to complete his studies at Morehouse College where he earned his BS degree in Biology in 1948. He continued his pursuit of education and earned his Doctor of Medicine from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1951, Summa Cum Laude. After his internship at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Illinois and surgical training at Homer Phillips Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, Warner entered private practice in Atlanta as a general surgeon in 1956.
Warner was initiated in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. at Morehouse College’s Psi Chapter in December 1941. He followed in the footsteps of his father, the late Clinton Ellsworth “Pop” Warner, Sr. (from Omega Hampton Project) who was one of the founders of Eta Chapter (now, Eta Omega Chapter), in Atlanta, Georgia.
Warner married the late Marybelle Reynolds Warner. They have one son, Clinton E. “Trey” Warner III. Warner married Sally Johnson Warner who remained devoted to him for forty-five years.
He is known for being one of Atlanta’s giants for integrating Atlanta. The late 1950s and 1960s was quite a tumultuous time for Atlanta; it marked the height of the Jim Crow era, segregation and discrimination against Blacks in public places, public vehicles, and employment. Warner was the first Black person to purchase property and a home in then-segregated Southwest Atlanta in 1962, shattering the infamous “Peyton Road Barricade / Berlin Wall” that had been erected by then-Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. After Warner had purchased property in the then all-white affluent community, white homeowners asked the mayor to erect barriers on Peyton Road and nearby Harlan Road to prevent further “intrusion” of Blacks. The Board of Aldermen approved the legislation on December 17, 1962, and Mayor Allen quickly signed it. On December 18, 1962, Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. ordered barricades to be built across Peyton Road and Harlan Road to discourage Black citizens from purchasing homes in an adjacent all-White neighborhood. City maintenance crews, consisting mostly of Black workers, erected wooden barriers saying “Road Closed.” Mayor Allen’s decision not only backfired but embarrassed the city and brought forth negative attention from the national media. Petitions were filed in Atlanta’s courts, and protesters picketed City Hall with signs referring to Atlanta’s “Berlin Wall,” dividing a city. Civil Rights organizations called for boycotts of White businesses around Cascade Heights, and Black leaders publicly lambasted Mayor Allen. On January 7, 1963, ten of the thirteen aldermen voted in support of the barricades. Attorney Donald Lee Hollowell filed a suit in Fulton County Superior Court to have the barricades removed. Peyton Road remained blocked until March 1, 1963, when Judge George P. Whitman unhurriedly ruled the barriers unconstitutional. It was during this time period that national pressure and newspaper headlines sparked usage of the term “A City Too Busy to Hate,” questioning Atlanta’s image. Warner’s efforts and acts of resistance initiated fair housing and formed the federation for national fair housing to allow Blacks to live in houses in Southwest Atlanta.
Cascade Heights (or the Cascade Road area) is a community in Southwest Atlanta. It includes portions of incorporated Atlanta and unincorporated South Fulton County. It had typically consisted of several smaller neighborhoods such as Mangum Manor, Peyton Forest, and West Manor, to name a few. “White Flight”: many white homeowners fled the neighborhood after the barricades were removed, either through fear or pressure. By the end of July 1963, only 15 white homeowners remained in the Peyton Forest community. By the late 1960s, the Cascade Heights neighborhood was predominantly Black, and it has remained relatively affluent.
Peyton Road Barricade
Dr. Clinton E. Warner, Jr. was the first Black person to purchase property and a home in then-segregated Southwest Atlanta in 1962, shattering the infamous “Peyton Road Barricade / Berlin Wall” that had been erected by then-Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. After Warner had purchased property in the then all-white affluent community, white homeowners asked the mayor to erect barriers on Peyton Road and nearby Harlan Road to prevent further “intrusion.” The Board of Aldermen approved the legislation on December 17, 1962, and Mayor Allen quickly signed it. On December 18, 1962, Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. ordered barricades to be built across Peyton Road and Harlan Road to discourage Black citizens from purchasing homes in an adjacent all-White neighborhood. Peyton Road remained blocked until March 1, 1963, when a Judge George P. Whitman unhurriedly ruled the barriers unconstitutional in response to a Fulton County Superior Court Suit launched by Attorney Donald Lee Hollowell. It was during this time period that national pressure and newspaper headlines sparked usage of the term “A City Too Busy to Hate,” questioning Atlanta’s image. Warner’s efforts and acts of resistance initiated fair housing and formed the federation for national fair housing to allow Blacks to live in houses in Southwest Atlanta.
Protest against “Atlanta Wall” Barricade
During the 1960s, Warner gave health services, financial support and bail resources to Atlanta Student Movement activists during the Civil Rights struggle. He was jailed twice during protests at Atlanta’s Biltmore Hotel and Heart of Atlanta Motel. Warner was a supporter of the Student Movement and the leaders of the Student Movement and was willing to sacrifice his life for the advancement of Blacks for equity in America.
Warner was one of eight plaintiffs in a 1963 lawsuit that desegregated Grady Hospital, Emory University and the Fulton County Medical and Dental Society. Warner later served as a member of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority from 1975 to 1984 and as chairman of the Hughes Spalding Committee. In 1967, he founded the first minority medical group in surgery, the Atlanta Surgical Professional Association. He was instrumental in the founding of the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM). As an inaugural member of MSM’s board of overseers (1976 to 1981), chairman of the board (1981 to 1990) and member of the board of trustees (until 2004), he was given singular distinction of Chairman Emeritus for Life in 1990. He served as college physician and director of the McVicar Infirmary at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia for thirty-five years.
Warner served as president of the Georgia State Medical Association from 1964 to 1975 and as president and treasurer of the Atlanta Medical Association in 1962; Chairman Emeritus of the Mutual Federal Bank in Atlanta, Georgia; member of board of directors of Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia; member of board of directors of Atlanta Life Insurance Company; and professor of Preventive Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Warner worked with several organizations and held numerous positions. He was a member of the board of trustees at Morehouse College, Chairman Emeritus and adjunct clinical professor of the Department of Surgery of the Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta, Georgia). He was Trustee Emeritus of the Boulé Foundation, Inc. (Chicago, Illinois). He was a founding board member of The Atlanta Inquirer newspaper. He was a charter board member of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Inc. (Atlanta, Georgia) and is a Board Member Emeritus. He was president of the Association for the Advancement of Negro Country Life, Inc. (Georgia) and president of Clearbrook Associates, LTD (Atlanta, Georgia).
Warner was chairman of the board of trustees, member of the executive committee and chief of surgery of Southwest Community Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. During Warner’s tenure and involvement, Southwest Community Hospital was the premiere medical service provider for Southwest Atlanta and Blacks in the area. Warner also was member of the board of trustees and executive committee of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, and chairman of the Hughes Spalding Committee.
Warner was a member and / or affiliated with several organizations. Some of which are: Medical Organizations: American College of Surgeons (Fellow); Georgia State Medical Association (Past President); Atlanta Medical Association (Past President and Treasurer); National Board of Medical Examiners; National Medical Association; American Medical Association; Southern Medical Association; American Board of Abdominal Surgeons; and Atlanta Surgical Professional Association; and, Civic and Social Organizations: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (Kappa Boulé); Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., initiated Psi Chapter December 1941; Graduate Bridge Club; and Bidders Bridge Club.
Warner was honorary co-chairman of the Medical Support Group of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) in 1996, and president and resident agent of the Camilla and Zach Hubert Foundation. Warner was treasurer for United States Congressman John Lewis campaigns in 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994. He was also treasurer of Atlanta City Councilman Clarence T. “C. T.” Martin campaigns in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002.
Warner had been executive vice president and member of the board of directors of The Atlanta Inquirer newspaper, which had been founded out of a need for a voice for leaders of the Atlanta Student Movement. Until his death, he served as a member of The Inquirer’s advisory board.
Warner’s hobbies and interests included classical and jazz piano, tennis, golf, playing chess and bridge, and working with computers. He was often seen at his “country club,” the Alfred “Tup” Holmes Golf Course in Atlanta, where he was a member.
Warner was preceded in death by parents and sisters, Marolyn Warner Smith and Yvonne Warner. He is lovingly survived by his devoted wife Sally Johnson Warner; son, Clinton E. “Trey” Warner III; granddaughter, Monique Warner; niece, Shauna Smith, of Tallahassee, Florida; great nephew, Robert “DJ” Smith II, of Atlanta, Georgia; great niece, Sejal Smith; his devoted cousin, Margaret Douthard, of Atlanta, Georgia; godchildren Pamela D. Smith, Lori A. Smith and John B. Smith, Jr., of Atlanta, Georgia; and an infinite number of relatives, friends and admirers.
Some of Warner’s writings include: 1) “Obstructive Jaundice in Acute Cholecystitis”, Journal of the National Medical Association, 1985; 2) “The Emperor’s Clothes: Are the Numbers Important?”, Journal of the National Medical Association, 1987; 3) “Leiomyosarcoma of Inferior Vena Cava”, Journal of the National Medical Association, 1980; 4) “Surgical Management in Sicklemia”, Journal of the National Medical Association, 1979; and 5) “The Changing of the Guard – A Minor Epiphany – A Major Horror”, The Boulé Journal, Winter 2001.
Warner has been featured in several journals, magazines and newspapers. Among the many writings, he has been profiled in the November 16, 2006 edition of the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project (World War II); February 9, 2006 edition of HistoryMakers; October 24, 2005 edition of the Atlanta History Center’s “Veterans of World War II” History Project; August 16, 2005 edition of Atlanta History Center’s “Voices Across the Color Line: Atlanta Stories from the Civil Rights Era”, to name a few.
Some Awards and Honors Earned by Clinton E. Warner, Jr., MD
Warner had received numerous awards and honors. Some of which are:
- Morehouse College Awards and Honors:
- “A Candle in the Dark” Bennie Trailblazer Award, February 16, 2008;
- The Honor of Trustee Emeritus, Fall Board Meeting, 2007;
- Morehouse College Leadership Circle of Donors, John Hope Society, February 17, 2006;
- Morehouse College Alumni Association, Distinguished Service Award, October 22, 2005;
- Morehouse College Key Supporter, Annual Giving Drive, 2001 – 2002;
- Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, 1991
- Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Atlanta, Georgia, Honorary Doctor of Science, May 14, 2005;
- Meharry Medical College, President’s Award, 1976;
- Spelman College, 35-Year Service Award, 1994;
- Awards from Medical and Health Organizations:
- The United States Department of Health and Human Services, 40th Anniversaries of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Service Award, September 2004;
- The Atlanta Medical Association, Inc., Year 2001 “50 Years of Service Award”;
- National Medical Association, Class of Gold Recognition, August 2001;
- Georgia State Medical Association, Distinguished Service Medallion Award, 1983;
- Atlanta Medical Association, Physician of the Year, 1978;
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Awards:
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, 50-Year Award, November 2000;
- Omega Psi Phi, Citizen of the Year Award, 1961;
- City and State Honors:
- Atlanta City Council, “Clinton E. Warner Day” Proclamation, September 5, 2000;
- Georgia House of Representatives, Honorary Resolution, March 8, 1980, for opening Housing for Blacks in Southwest Atlanta;
- The Boulé Foundation, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, several Legacy Awards through 2006;
- The Atlanta Inquirer, Inc., The 1960s Veterans of Atlanta’s Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights, Birth and Survival of The Atlanta Inquirer newspaper, August 12, 2005.
Last updated on September 9, 2022