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About Dr. William Montague Cobb
William Montague Cobb was born into a segregated black community in Washington, D.C., on October 12, 1904. His mother, Alexzine E. Montague Cobb, was from an old Massachusetts family of black and Native American heritage. His father, William Elmer Cobb, had moved to Washington, D.C. from Selma, Alabama, in 1899 to work for the Government Printing Office. Even before he could read, Cobb was fascinated with the human racial types depicted in one of his grandfather's books. But by the time he entered racially-segregated Patterson Elementary School, Cobb had learned that human variation, rather than something to celebrate, was used to oppress people. He attended Dunbar High School where many of the teachers had advanced degrees, since few colleges at the time would hire black instructors. Cobb studied violin and he taught himself boxing to deal with neighborhood conflicts. Impressed by the good works and social status of physicians, he decided to become a medical doctor.
Graduating from Dunbar in 1921, Cobb entered Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he received an education in languages, literature, philosophy, history, and the arts, as well as in the sciences. He also was a championship cross-country runner and boxer. Cobb was initiated into Gamma Chapter in 1922. At graduation
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