Who Was E.E. Butler?

Published: Monday, February 8, 2021
Dr. Emmett Ethridge Butler

If you live in Gainesville, Georgia, you might be familiar with E.E. Butler Parkway as the main road that welcomes you into the city. You’ve probably heard E.E. Butler mentioned many times, but do you know who this person was? 

Emmett Ethridge Butler, also known as E.E. Butler, was the first black physician to receive privileges to practice medicine in Hall County. He was born on April 13, 1908, less than 60 years after the Civil War ended. He died in May of 1955, just one year after the Supreme Court declared segregation unconstitutional. He lived during a period in history in which he was denied full rights and privileges as a US citizen solely because of the color of his skin.  

Early Life  

Butler attended a segregated elementary school in Macon, Morehouse High School and College, and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. Meharry is a private institution founded by the Freedman Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church to educate freed slaves and provide healthcare services to the poor and underserved. After completing medical school in 1933, Dr. Butler practiced in Macon for two years before working in a Tuberculosis unit at Alto from 1935 to 1936.  

Life in Gainesville  

He came to Gainesville in 1936 and practiced medicine until he died in 1955. He was an active member of the community, the first black member to serve on the Gainesville Board of Education and spearheaded the first black voter registration drive. He loved and supported the Fair Street Athletic Association and the Fair Street Band. The community memorialized his service through the naming of the E.E. Butler High School and E.E. Butler Parkway. He was a deacon and Sunday School teacher at St. John’s Baptist Church. 

Northeast Georgia Health System celebrates Black History Month. We encourage you to learn about the many trailblazers who paved the way for change.