Master tailor and tailoring instructor Marion William Anderson was born to Ethel and William Anderson on April 4, 1926, in Charleston, South Carolina. Ethel Anderson was a beautician and William Anderson was a presser. Anderson's mother encouraged him to pursue a trade at Burke Industrial High School in Charleston. In 1947, after serving the U.S. Army in Asia for a few months, he graduated from high school, majoring in tailoring. In 1949, Anderson moved to Harlem, New York, in order to look for work. After a few jobs in industrial tailoring, Anderson pursued a teaching career.
After refining his skills at the American Gentleman School of Design, he started teaching at the Empire School of Design, a school that catered to African American World War II veterans. In 1956, Anderson began instructing prisoners in the tailor shop on Rikers Island. Four years later, he convinced the New York City Board of Education to create a tailoring curriculum, and he was hired at Sterling High School in Brooklyn, New York, where he would teach tailoring for thirty-three years. Anderson was the first African-American to be licensed by the City of New York to teach tailor.
In 1987, Anderson founded his own school, the Manhattanville Needle Trade School, in Harlem. In 2007, Anderson celebrated his twentieth year as the director at the school. During his lengthy career, he has tailored suits for many members of the Harlem elite, and taught a valuable trade to hundreds in Harlem and New York City.
Marion William Anderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 29, 2007.