Dr. John Talmadge Givens was one of the youngest successful businessmen in Norfolk during the early 1900s.
Givens was born on December 24, 1890, in Aiken, South Carolina. His father was a contractor. After attending the public schools in Aiken, he enrolled at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC. While in college, he found work through his trade as a brick mason to help pay for his college tuition.
After completing his studies at Claflin in 1907, Givens entered Meharry Medical College in Nashville. At the age of 22, Givens graduated with an M.D. degree. He moved to Norfolk and opened a general practice. He was among the first, if not the only, African American at his age to operate a successful medical practice in the city.
Givens married Alma Wells on May 12, 1915, and they later had one daughter. Wells was educated at Spellman and Howard University. Dr. Givens served as the Medical Examiner for the International Longshoreman’s Association. He was also the Director of Brown’s Savings Bank and Vice President of the Union Commercial Bank of Norfolk.