Anderson was born May 26, 1907 in Louisville, Kentucky to Charles W. Anderson and Tabitha L. Murphy. He attended Kentucky State College, graduated from Wilberforce University in 1927, and received a law degree from Howard University in 1931. In 1933, he was admitted to the bar and started a law practice in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1935 he was elected as a Republican to the Kentucky House of Representatives, serving until 1958.
One of his most important legislative accomplishments was the Anderson-Mayer State Aid Act which provided $7,500 annually to African American students to attend out of state colleges because Kentucky’s segregated college system could not accommodate all the blacks at the one all-black state school, Kentucky State College, in Frankfort. He also passed bills improving public school facilities and legislated for a $100 education and travel fund for each black student who was forced to travel outside of his or her county to attend segregated schools. Combating lynching in Kentucky, Anderson was credited with the repeal of the state’s public hanging law.
Anderson, who was longtime president of the Louisville National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was awarded the Lincoln Institute Key in 1940 for his service to the black community He also served as president of the National Negro Bar Association chapter in Kentucky. In 1946, he was selected as the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney in Kentucky’s 30th Judicial District, Jefferson County, which was the highest judicial position, held by any African American in the South at the time. President Eisenhower also selected him in 1959 as the alternate delegate to the United Nations.