William R. Pittman (1901-1984) was the first African American dentist to establish a practice in Berkeley, California, and husband of civil rights leader Tarea Hall Pittman.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Pittman moved to Oakland, California as a child to be raised by his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Pittman. He grew up in East Oakland and attended Fremont High School.
Pittman enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in World War I in the 365th Infantry with the American Expeditionary Forces in France.
After serving in the war, Pittman returned to Oakland where he finished his high school education.
Pittman completed his pre-dental training at the University of California, Berkeley, but when he enrolled at the University of California College of Dentistry in San Francisco the administrators told him they would not graduate an African American student. Undeterred, Pittman transferred to Meharry Dental School in Nashville, Tennessee to finish his degree his senior year.
Pittman met his future wife Tarea Hall in 1923 while the two of them were students at UCB, and four years later the couple married in 1927.
In 1931 Pittman returned to California and established his dental practice at 2930 Grove Street in Berkeley, California. He practiced dentistry for over 44 years before retiring in June 1975.
William R. Pittman was a member of many professional and civic groups including the American Dental Association, California Dental Society, Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities, NAACP, and the YMCA.