Sunday, Phillip M. (1881–1946)

By: Andy Galloway

Type: Biography

Published: May 16, 2013

Updated: April 8, 2021

Phillip M. Sunday, African-American physician and civic leader, was born to John and Sarahphine (Landry) Sunday in Pensacola, Florida, on May 1, 1881. Sunday attended Fisk University before his acceptance into Meharry Medical College. In 1906 he was in Texas and practicing medicine in Beaumont at the Oil City Drug Company. Sunday began a practice in Dallas in 1908, but he continued to operate out of Beaumont as well, even though he had closed the drug store section of his practice. Once firmly established in Dallas as a Black professional, Sunday became a civic leader in Dallas’s African-American community. About 1913 he married Margaret Goulsby; they had one son, Harvey. He moved his offices to the Knights of Pythias Temple as soon as it was completed by 1917.

In 1919 Sunday was placed on the “Good Government Association’s” advisory committee to attract the Black vote for the upcoming Dallas mayoral race, which pitted incumbent Joe E. Lawther against challenger Frank W. Wozencraft. Due to a split in the once-dependable “Labor vote,” the local city government turned its attention to obtaining the African-American vote, and, consequently, Lawther had extended some notable health and civic advances to the Dallas Black community, including the creation of the Negro Welfare Board and the support of a segregated ward at Woodlawn Hospital to treat Black tuberculosis patients. Sunday was also placed on the committee for publicity for a parade held by Dallas to honor its returning Black veterans of World War I.

Sunday remained a leader during the 1920s. In 1924 as a member of the Negro Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association, he gave a lecture and clinic for Negro Health Week at the Church of God. In July 1925 Sunday presented a lecture on the “Importance of keeping our Business in Sanitary Condition” to Dallas’s fledgling Negro Business League. During the following year, in association with the Lone Star Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association Negro Health Week, Sunday gave health lectures at the Metropolitan Addition Church. This church was housed in a poverty-stricken housing division known as Mill City. By 1927 Sunday was practicing with his partners B. E. Howell and L. L. Brown at their offices located on Thomas Avenue. This practice became “quite lucrative,” as Sunday and his partners were among the first Black doctors to provide blood testing.

During the 1930s Sunday saw many advances for members of Dallas’s Black community. In 1935–36 the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce (now Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce) labored to ensure a better standard of living for African Americans in Dallas. A Hall of Negro Life was included in the buildings for the Texas Centennial. With the promise of a new Black housing project, high school, and an expansion of Black parks, Dallas appeared to be a place where, within the confines of segregation, brotherhood between the races seemed a possibility. In 1939 Sunday and his partners were extended an opportunity to attend a teaching clinic offered at Tuskegee Institute; however, Sunday had to decline this honor so that he could continue to see his patients.

During the early 1940s racial disputes broke out in South Dallas, as the expanding Black population began to move into White neighborhoods that were located on the cusp of the segregated districts. As soon as African-American families began to take possession of homes in the summer of 1940, the White reaction was immediate. When legal measures for exclusion attempted by neighboring Whites failed, a campaign of violence began with a series of bombings on a number of the properties.

Sunday was a victim of two such attacks at his home at 3731 Oakland, when, on the evenings of December 3, 1940, and February 3, 1941, bombs, consisting of sticks of dynamite taped together, were thrown at the house. In both cases, the fuse did not ignite the dynamite. Sunday himself doused the fuse with water during the second attack. The bombings of Black properties continued through November 1941, when a floral shop owned by Lee G. Pinkston was attacked. America’s sudden entry into World War II diverted attention and left the bombing cases and resulting racial tension unresolved.

Phillip M. Sunday died in Dallas on August 24, 1946. He was buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery.

Dallas Express, March 29, 1919; April 12, 1919; March 29, 1924; July 14, 1925; October 1, 1927. Dallas Morning News, December 4, 1940; February 4, 1941. Mamie L. McKnight, ed., First African American Families of Dallas: Creative Survival—Exhibition and Family History Memoirs, Vol. 1 (Dallas: Black Dallas Remembered Steering Committee, 1987).

  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Andy Galloway, “Sunday, Phillip M.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 16, 2013
April 8, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: