The Legacy

Reverend Dr. Frederick Douglas Reese (1929 – 2018)

Reverend Dr. Frederick Douglas Reese was a major factor in redefining the political landscape of the United States in the 1950’s and 60’s.  He uplifted the knowledge and the spirit of African Americans through diligence, determination, and defiance of unjust laws through civil disobedience. 

His letter to a Baptist preacher from Atlanta, GA to come down and assist with voting rights for African Americans ignited a movement that led to one of the most tragic events in American History, yet brought national attention, and put a face on the horrors and obstacles African Americans were facing in the South on a daily basis. 

The endless amount of accolades and awards accrued and the schools and streets named after him speak to his efforts. But the nights on his knees praying, the devotion to his family and anyone in need, and the absolute credit he gives to God for everything in his life, speaks to the man that he is. 

An unshakable, unbreakable, undeniable pillar in his community, Dr. Frederick Reese is the soul of Selma, the heart of those who put others’ needs before their own, and the courage of those who stand up for what’s right despite overwhelming odds.

EDUCATION:​ ​Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Reese knew the power that an education can have when wielded by an individual, particularly one coming from an impoverished situation as he did. Dr. Reese believed that an education is a solid foundation upon which you can build a better life on. Dr. Reese himself is a proud Alumni of the HBCU Alabama State University as well as studied at another HBCU in Livingston University, now the University of West Alabama, in addition to taking up studies at Southern and Auburn University before attaining his doctorate of divinity from Selma University. Being that Dr. Reese was a strong advocate for education and considered it a pillar of his success, we at the Frederick D. Reese Foundation echo his sentiments and take up his mantle in assuring that everyone who is desirous of an education will have the access and opportunities to get one. The foundation conducts essay contests for students from as early as 1st grade all the way through college, backpack giveaways, scholarships and numerous other initiatives to assure those who have the will and drive will have the tools to obtain a proper education. 

PASTOR: ​Dr. Reese’s relationship with God was the main pillar of the foundation of his life. He knew from early on who was the head of his life and rarely acknowledged his accomplishments without giving due credit to whom made it all possible for him. His passion for God combined with his natural gifts as a speaker and community organizer led him down the road of being a spiritual leader. He was a staple in his community not only as an educator but as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church for over 50 years. The Frederick D. Reese Foundation is a firm believer in the church being at the front of positive community change and will continue to aid those organizations rooted in God to bring about positive influence in and change to an environment where our youth can thrive in. 

ACTIVISM: ​When it came to social activism, Dr. Frederick D. Reese was SECOND TO NONE. His tireless efforts to advance the adverse conditions of African Americans and other minorities, particularly in the south, is what led to bringing global attention to the plights of African Americans in the United States during the 1960’s. Dr. Reese could’ve chosen to rest on his laurels and the success that came from the fruits of his labors but instead decided to use his social standing and be a voice for those that did not have one. The Frederick D. Reese foundation will continue to foster and operate in the spirit of civil disobedience to affect change in our community. We will be putting forth initiatives and events to encourage children to voice their opinions and show them ways they can be the change they want to see around them by simple having the courage to speak and the will to do the work just as Dr. Reese did. 

OUTREACH: ​The impact Dr. Reese has had on his community through his charitable efforts, both public and personal, can never be truly measured. He was the epitome of what charity means through his distribution of knowledge, spiritual upliftment, and just simply being the example of what a man can overcome when he has the focus. Dr. Reese was a prolific man of God, but also knew faith without works is dead, and exemplified that by always being there when called upon by his community, despite the conditions, critiques, and obstacles that threatened to deter him. Outreach is central to our functions here at the Frederick D. Reese Foundation. We have streamlined our focus to Selma and the greater Atlanta area and plan to expand our efforts to other regions in the future. We have an annual muscular dystrophy walk, an issue that was close to Dr. Reese’s heart, in Selma. We also support and work with numerous other non-profit organizations and plan to expand our reach in the near future. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Dr. Reese’s accomplishment are too broad and numerous to list in this section so we put together a select list of accomplishments. To find out more about him check out other sections of this website and to receive it from the man himself make sure you order the book,  

"Selma Self Sacrifice" 

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● He led the first demonstration of Black Teachers for the right to vote. He was fired and subsequently rehired by his employer for his involvement in it. 

● He was one of the first African Americans to run for public office in Dallas County, AL. 

● Desegregated a local doctor’s reception area by refusing to wait in a small area designated ‘blacks only’. 

● Played a significant role in the desegregation of the local Teachers’ association by helping to merge the black and white organizations into one.

● He was the first man to advocate and obtain commitments for summer jobs for black youth from the city of Selma and Dallas County 

● Played a significant role in the establishment of an Economic Opportunity Agency in Dallas County and pushed for the board of directors positions to be half white and half black. 

● Organized and led protests against a popular store in Selma for their discriminatory policies in hiring, promoting and the treatment of their African American employees. This led to a meeting with the Vice President and an eventual incorporation of a fair non-discriminatory policies. The multi-billion dollar company continues to use a model of this policy today. 

● He stood up for improved housing conditions for all. Due to his efforts, encouragement, and support, housing units, a park on Vogelin avenue and lunch and transportation programs were established for the elderly and over 800 units of public housing were constructed by public and private enterprises, including Felix Heights and Urban Renewal, just to name a few in Selma, AL. 

Giving to the Foundation

If you would like to extend your support to the Frederick D. Reese Foundation, to make a lasting impact on the future of education within impoverished communities, you may choose from several gift arrangements.  

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January 11, 1964 Telegraph from Martin Luther King, Jr.


Pioneer | Leader | Educator | Activist | Pastor | Husband | Father | Icon

Reverend Dr. Frederick Douglas Reese



















In His Remembrance