Dr. Carl G. Roberts was one of the commanding figures in the history of African Americans in the field of medicine. He served as president of the National Medical Association, at a time when Blacks were not permitted to join the American Medical Association. He was one of the few Black doctors of his time to practice in predominantly White hospitals in Chicago. He was named to the surgical staff of Lutheran Memorial Hospital in the 1930s, the first Black doctor to hold such a position. He served as chairman of the department of surgery from 1925-1931 at Provident Hospital, the first Black owned and operated hospital in the U.S.
Roberts was born in 1886 in Roberts Settlement, Indiana, a city named for his grandfather about 30 miles north of Indianapolis. His grandparents who were free Blacks, moved from North Carolina to Indiana in the 1820s and established the community in their name.
Roberts was one of the few Black students in school and went on to work at a local YMCA, at a boarding house and as a shoe shine man. After high school, he moved to Chicago and later enrolled in medical school. Before his attendance, no other Black student had ever attended Chicago Medical College (later became Loyola University College of Medicine). A student attempted to organize a strike, but the dean insisted Roberts be treated fairly. In 1911, Roberts became the first Black to graduate from Chicago Medical College.
Roberts was initiated into the Chicago (IL) Alumni Chapter in 1919, served as its Polemarch (1922-1923) and as a member of the Fraternity's Grand Board of Directors in the early 1920s