Ernest Raymond Alexander was a prominent contributor to the Nashville Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a member of the Fisk University board of trustees. He was born in Dixon Springs, Tennessee, on June 21, 1892. After his family moved to Nashville, young Ernest attended Meigs School in 1910. He completed Fisk University in 1914.
Alexander attended the University of Minnesota's medical school but completed his medical degree at the University of Vermont (1919). While at Vermont he was awarded "Honor Man in Medicine," the first prize for "Special Merit in Medicine," and the Woodbury prize for "Clinical Proficiency in Medicine." He worked in the fields of dermatology and syphilology.
Dr. Alexander opened his medical practice in Harlem during the summer of 1920 and he joined the staffs at Bellevue Hospital and Harlem Hospital. He completed post-graduate studies at Columbia University and additional work at New York University and the Bellevue Hospital Medical College by 1925. He was a member of many professional organizations and author of several medical articles.
Dr. Alexander became involved in the advancement of black people. He was an active member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and a contributing member to the YMCA, the National Urban League, and the NAACP. He was one of the first life members of the NAACP. He also was an advisor to the Boy Scouts of America and received the Silver Beaver Award (1949) and the Silver Antelope Award (1954).
Dr. Alexander's wife, Lillian, donated the E. R. Alexander Collection of Negroana to the Fisk University Library and gave a matching endowment of five thousand dollars to Support it. Mrs. Alexander was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Minnesota. When visiting Nashville, the Alexanders attended First Baptist Church of East Nashville. Dr. Alexander had great influence on developments in black Nashville, especially through his Negroana collection at Fisk University, where black achievement and culture are displayed through the Alexanders' efforts.