Who is Frederick Douglass Patterson?

“A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste”


 “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” is the well-known campaign slogan for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

1901 – Frederick Douglass Patterson is born in Washington, DC.
He will receive doctorate degrees from both Iowa State
University and Cornell University.  Dr. Patterson will
serve as the president of Tuskegee Institute from 1935
to 1955.  In 1943, he will organize a meeting of the
heads of Black colleges to conduct annual campaigns
for funds needed to help meet the operating expenses of
27 Black colleges and universities. This will result in
the formation of the United Negro College Fund. Dr.
Patterson will serve as its first president. In 1987,
President Ronald Reagan will award him the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
In 1988, he will be awarded the Spingarn Medal from the
NAACP. He will join the ancestors on April 26, 1988.

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