Anthony Wayne Beal, physician, was born on May 13, 1916, in Hammond, Texas. He was born to Perry W. and Edna (Handy) Beal and had twelve siblings. Beal graduated from Calvert Colored School in Calvert, Texas, in 1934. He decided to further his education by attending Prairie View Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University) then later transferred to Paul Quinn College but ultimately received his degree in chemistry at Bishop College in 1939. One of the first blacks to receive out-of-state tuition assistance in Texas, Beal attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated from Meharry in 1943 and did his residency in St. Louis, Missouri, at Homer G. Phillips Hospital.
On January 15, 1945, Anthony Beal moved to Houston to practice medicine with his brother Perry Beal. During the 1950–51 school year the Beal brothers decided to attend the University of Texas postgraduate school of medicine in Houston’s Texas Medical Center to acquire advance courses in medicine. The two did not consider that segregation should prevent them from enrollment and did not seek to create a controversy. As a result, they were both admitted by the department and were the first African Americans to attend Mavis P. Kelsey’s course in modern therapeutics. The brothers later established their practice at the Lockwood Professional Building, associated with Lockwood Hospital, where Anthony Beal practiced until his death. Anthony also practiced at Riverside General Hospital (formerly known as the Negro Hospital) in Houston’s Third Ward, as well as St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. During his practice there Beal, along with brother Perry Beal, and C. W. Pemberton, spearheaded an effort to get doctors at the hospital recognized by the Harris County Medical Society. Previously, African American doctors were not allowed to join the society, were denied certain board certifications, and could not practice at Houston’s Jefferson Davis Hospital. The Beal brothers, as members of the Lone Star State Medical Association and the Houston Medical Forum, were also very involved in the fight to get Herman Aladdin Barnett III admitted to UTMB Galveston in 1949.
Anthony Beal also helped integrate Houston’s public parks. He was a lover of golf but was restricted by segregation rules. In 1948 Dr. Anthony Beal, Dr. Walter Minor, Dr. Hughes J. Lyman, and businessmen, J. H. Jamison and Milton Pruitt were refused the privilege to play golf at a public course in Hermann Park due to segregation. The golf players decided to take action against the city which only offered blacks two public parks, neither of which offered golf facilities. In 1950 the black golfers took legal action against Mayor Oscar Holcombe and the Houston city council and filed Beal v. Holcombe. On December 18, 1950, Judge T. M. Kennedy ruled in favor of Holcombe and the city, but the case was sent to the Fifth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Judge Joseph C. Hutcheson, Jr., ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on March 22, 1952. The city appealed to the United States Supreme Court, and the case lingered on for two more years until June 2, 1954, when Mayor Roy Hofheinz issued an ordinance to open all public golf courses to African Americans. Finally, Beal, Pruitt, and other blacks were allowed to play golf at Hermann Park.
Even though Anthony Beal’s brother Perry left Houston and moved to Los Angeles in 1952, Beal continued to practice on Lockwood in Houston’s Fifth Ward. He eventually became a regional director for the National Medical Association and served as president of the Homer G. Phillips Interns Alumni Association. He also opened a popular Houston nightclub called The Wunder Bar and was a patron of the arts. In 1959 he commissioned renowned Houston sculptor Carroll Harris Simms to create Jonah and the Whale. Beal also regained notability as a civil rights activist in 1973 when he was denied purchase of a condominium in a wealthy Houston neighborhood. The Department of Justice filed a victorious suit on his behalf, citing a clear violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. It was the first ever housing discrimination suit to involve a condominium. Anthony Wayne Beal died on February 22, 1999, in Houston.