James Lee Dickey, an African American physician. was the son of John S. and Linnie A. (Sears) Dickey. He was born in 1893 in Central Texas. somewhere near Waco. He attended Waco public schools from 1900 to 1912, and graduated from Tillotson College in 1916. Before he enrolled at Meharry Medical College. in Nashville. Tennessee. where he graduated in 1921. Dickey worked as a industrial teacher in Marlin .A position he didn’t stay with very long. Dickey’s father died in an accident before he graduated, leaving his mother with eight other children to raise by herself. Dickey came to Taylor, Texas to talk to Dr. J. Richard Moore a black doctor. Unfortunately, Dr. Moore had moved to San Antonio, Texas. “The hand of destiny guided me to Taylor. I came to stay a few years. I remained to do my life’s work.’”Dickey said. He married Magnolia Fowler of Nashville, November 29, 1922. and together they loved Taylor. Where they worked together on many projects, including support of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It seems that Dickey was the only African American practitioner in Williamson County. One of 130 African American doctors in Texas. He established a medical facility beginning with a three bedroom clinic. later expanding a 15 bed hospital with modern surgical and obstetrical facilities. His efforts provided the only medical facility for blacks in Williamson County. The only facility for Blacks in a white run hospital were no beds in a building separated from the main hospital. In his journey Dickey found there were no facilities for African Americans in Bell, Lee, Milam or Bastrop counties. He soon discovered that the health problems and causes of death among Blacks in those areas were typhoid fever. diarrhea among infants, convulsions and complications of childbirth. tuberculosis. pellagra. venereal diseases and violence. He initiated health campaigns and established a prenatal clinic. Expectant mothers who couldn’t pay the fee were given free medical examinations and advice. Dickey established a venereal disease clinic to treat patients who couldn’t pay
At one point in his career he slowed a typhoid fever epidemic through a vigorous vaccination program. Dickey expanded his doctoring to other areas of concern, such as the segregation and emotional suppression of Blacks. Due to violence being the cause of many deaths. Dickey, along with other participants, developed recreational facilities for youth. He solicited help from White physicians, who got involved. As luck would have it. the Taylor school board. in 1940. purchased land for a park for African Americans. African’ American women in the community, along with donation from some influential Whites. A building was erected and was a designated The Community Center. The Taylor Amusement Company finally opened a balcony in the town’s theater, which allowed Blacks to go to the movies. Over the years Dickey received many honors for his service to the community. He was named The Most Outstanding Citizen of Taylor in 1953 by the Chamber of Commerce. That was the first time an African American was honored in the Community. This resulted in a article in the Saturday Evening Post October 24, 1953 issue named ” A Negro Doctor Wins_Over a Southern Town. He was named General Practitioner of the Year by the Lone Star State Medical. Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association In 1953. His alma mater, Tillotson College named the Science Building after him and Theodore K. Lawless a dermatologist. Dickey served on the board of trustees from 1951 to his death. He died in Williamson County on May 18.1959.