Dr. William A. Cleland was born in 1907 in Hickory, North Carolina and grew up in Durham where his father served as Minister of St. Joseph’s A.M.E. Church. After finishing high school, he worked in New Jersey for 14 years to complete his education at Kittrell College. Cleland completed his undergraduate and medical school education at Howard University and then an internship at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, DC. With support from Dean Wilburt Davidson of Duke medical school, and Dr. Clyde Donnell, in 1936, Dr. Cleland obtained a Julius Rosenwald Fund fellowship for training in pediatrics at New York University. He obtained specialty training in pediatrics at New York University from in 1936-37. Upon his return to Durham, he was the first African American pediatrician. He had a large private practice and also ran four well-baby clinics for the Durham County Health Department.