Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson

Let’s start with Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson. This wonderful gentleman got his DVM degree in 1923 and began teaching at Tuskegee University in 1928. He then began to teach veterinary science and founded in 1944 the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine which has graduated 75% of African American veterinarians. He also founded the United Negro College which is a big financial supporter of Historically black colleges and universities. Dr. Patterson was the first faculty to earn the doctorate of veterinary medicine. While head of this department, the veterinary program reached such an outstanding quality that the state of Alabama granted funds to white students allowing them to learn veterinary medicine. This was a huge and unique thing to happen in the segregated south. However, having such a great accomplishment towards veterinary medicine did not stop from him having racial experiences there. He still ate separately with the 1 other black student but said he has learned from his experiences. As he wrote in his autobiography:

“I learned a lesson with regard to race that I never forgot: how people feel about you reflects the way you permit yourself to be treated. If you permit yourself to be treated differently, you are condemned to an unequal relationship.”

Dr. Frederick Douglas Patterson

He did have other programs that he help African Americans get schooling for, however veterinary always took preference for him. This program allowed southern African Americans with the only opportunity to become veterinarians in this region of the country! On June 23, 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded Dr. Patterson the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Its inscription reads, “By his inspiring example of personal excellence and unselfish dedication, he has taught the nation that, in this land of freedom, no mind should go to waste…”. Dr. Patterson then passed in 1988 at the age of 87 unfortunately.

As you can see Dr. Patterson did many amazing things for veterinary medicine in his time here. Though he may no longer be with us this amazing man will live on for years to come thanks to his hard work and dedication. He will be remembered for the things he has achieved and will be always able to teach others important things such as no mind should go to waste, you can achieve things with enough perseverance, and you will be treated how you allow others to treat you. Today we celebrate and remember Dr. Frederick Douglas Patterson.

Written by: Ashley G, VT