Fred D. (Frederick Douglas) Alexander papers
Scope and Contents
This collection primarily consists of material created and received by Alexander as a member of the Charlotte City Council (1965-74) and as a state senator (1975-80). There is very little material before 1948 when Alexander became executive secretary of the Citizens' Committee for Political Action, which sponsored two black candidates for local office. (From published interviews given by Alexander, it appears that he helped to organize this group as early as 1932.) From the 1950s, an increasing amount of material is available, derived primarily from Alexander's membership in such organizations as the NAACP, Southern Regional Council, North Carolina and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Human Relations Councils, North Carolina Good Neighbor Council, PTA, and the local community services (series 2). Also available is a small amount of material from this time in series 3, 4, and 6. The 1960s and 1970s were the years of Alexander's greatest public visibility, and material from this period constitutes about two-thirds of the collection. Most of that material documents his service on the Charlotte City Council and in the North Carolina Senate (series 1), but also available is substantial material relating to his community service activities (series 2). When Alexander died, his papers were in several locations. In bringing them together at his home, the original order of the papers was greatly disturbed. Consequently, the processors had to impose an arrangement on the papers that, because of the size and complexity of the collection, has not always been successful in bringing together similar material. For example, material documenting Alexander's city council campaigns is in series, 1, 3, and 4. Cross references have been included in folder descriptions in many cases, but researchers are advised to review all series descriptions carefully and to consult the container list in order to identify all possible locations for relevant material.
- Creation: 1908, 1931-1998
- Creation: 1946 - 1980
- Alexander, Frederick Douglas (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
Biographical / Historical
Frederick Douglas Alexader was born in Charlotte, N.C. on February 21, 1910. Named for abollitionist Frederick Douglass, he was one of four sons of Zechariah and Louise Bates McCullough Alexander. Zechariah Alexander (1877-1954) had an important influence on his sons Fred and Kelly, the latter a national leader of the NAACP. A graduate of the normal department of Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University), Zechariah served in the Spanish-American War as regimental sergeant major of the 3rd Regiment, North Carolina Volunteers. In 1902 he became Charlotte district manager of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, which became one of the largest black-owned businesses in the country. He also established the Alexander Funeral Home, which became a center of community and political activity for the Brooklyn neighborhood. He ran for city council in 1937. Fred Alexander was graduated from Charlotte's Second Ward High School in 1926 and from Lincoln University of Pennsylvania in 1931. He returned to work for his father at the funeral home, and he soon began the first of his many voter registration drives among the city's blacks. In addition to trying to increase the political influence of blacks, he worked for the appointment of black police officers and mail carriers, for business courses in the black high schools, and for improved health care. In 1949 he served as executive secretary of the Citizens Committee for Political Action, which sponsored black candidates Bishop Dale and Rev. James F. Wertz for city council and the school board, respectively. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Alexander's public visibility increased: in 1954 Harry Golden wrote an article for Congress Weekly about Alexander's voter registration efforts (see series 6). He was a charter member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Council on Human Relations, was elected to the Southern Regional Council, and served on committees of the United Community Services. He became the first black member of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce in 1962 and of the Mecklenburg County Board of Public Welfare in 1963. In 1964 he became a member of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Executive Committee, and the following year he won election as Charlotte's first black city council member since the 1890s. In November, 1965, the homes of Alexander, his brother Kelly, attorney Julius Chambers, and dentist Reginald Hawkins were bombed by unknown terrorists. In spite of this attack and his initial inability to have blacks appointed to city boards, he eventually gained influence on the council and in the entire community. Among his important successes as a council member were the passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance (1968), the removal of the fence separating the black Pinewood and the white Elmwood cemeteries (1969), the construction of a fire station for northwest Charlotte (1970), and the preservation of the Thompson Orphanage Chapel. In 1971 he led the city council ticket and became Charlotte's first black mayor pro tem. In 1974 Alexander was elected to the North Carolina Senate from the 22nd district (Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties). He served as vice chair of the Higher Education Committee. In 1979 he introduced legislation designating the second week in February as Black History Week in North Carolina. Alexander participated in many civic groups and local and state boards, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Charlotte Area Fund, Model Neighborhood Commission, North Carolina Good Neighbor Council, Governor's Committee on Law and Order, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Charter Commission. He served as an officer in several Masonic and shrine organizations, president of the Mint Museum of Art (1978-79), and a trustee of Johnson C. Smith University, from which he received an honorary degree in 1976. In addition to maintaining a lifelong connection with the family funeral home, Alexander also served as an agent and member of the board of directors of the Southern Fidelity Mutual Insurance Company (ca. 1941-60), and the manager of Double Oaks (1949-80). The complex, developed by C. D. Spangler Realty Company, was the first privately-owned, multi-family housing project for blacks in Charlotte. Alexander also encouraged Spangler to build University Park, a middle-income housing development in northwest Charlotte, and assisted in securing the necessary loan from Southern Fidelity Mutual. Alexander married Frances Mauvene Dugas (1905-6), the daughter of a Johnson C. Smith University official, in 1935. They had one daughter, Theodora Eugenia. Frederick Alexander died on April 13, 1980 and was buried in York Memorial Park in Charlotte. [For additional biographical information, see box 55:1.]
58 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Public papers of a Charlotte politician and civil rights leader. Primarily material created and received by Alexander as the first African-American member of the Charlotte City Council in the 20th Century (1965-74) and as a North Carolina state senator (1975-80). Includes minutes and other papers related to council and senate activities; material on campaigns and voter registration drives; files on the local, state, and national Democratic Party; correspondence; speeches; clippings; photographs; and some personal and business material. Also includes extensive files of the numerous organizations and businesses in which Alexander was active, e.g., Charlotte Area Fund, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, Governor's Committee on Law and Order, Johnson C. Smith University, Mecklenburg County Board of Public Welfare, Mint Museum, Model Neighborhood Commission, NAACP, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and North Carolina councils on human relations, North Carolina Good Neighbor Council, North Carolina Human Relations Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Act Advisory Council, People's Hospital, Southern Regional Council, C. D. Spangler Construction Company, United Community Services, and Wachovia Bank & Trust Company. Photographs include views of Double Oaks and Newland apartment complexes, which Alexander managed; a 1954 Shriners' parade; and the funeral (1955) of his father, Zechariah Alexander.
Organized into the following series: I. Files of public office, 1960-1980: subseries 1-2 as follows: 1. City Council files; 2. Senate files, 1972, 1974-1980: further subdivided into four categories; II. Files of community service, 1936-1980, arranged alphabetically by name of organization; III. General correspondence, 1932-1942, 1952-1980, arranged chronologically; IV. Political materials, 1933-1980, subject arrangement; V. Speeches, 1951, 1964-1980; VI. Clippings, 1951-1982; VII. Personal material, 1946-1986; VIII. Business material, 1949-1980; IX. Miscellanea, 1908- 1980; X. Photographs, 1950-1980.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Mrs. Fred D. Alexander, 1982.
58 linear feet (ca. 104,400 items)
Copyright retained by family
Processed by Robin Brabham, Debbie McCachern, and Ellen Patterson, June 1985; additions by James Kusik, 2002.
- Fred D. (Frederick Douglas) Alexander papers
- Finding aid written by Robin Brabham, Debbie McCachern, and Ellen Patterson, June 1985.
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository
Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States