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Fri, 05.31.1872

Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry, Philanthropist born

Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry

*The birth of Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry is celebrated on this date in 1872. She was a Black philanthropist and activist.

Fredericka Douglass Sprague was born in Rochester, New York. She was the granddaughter of Frederick Douglass. She was the fifth oldest child of the seven children of Rosetta Douglass Sprague and Nathan Sprague. She attended public school in Washington, DC, and then the Mechanics Institute in Rochester, New York. In 1906, she moved to Missouri, where she taught home economics at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

After her marriage to Dr. John E. Perry in 1912, founder of the Wheatley Provident Hospital (previously called the Perry Sanitarium), the first private hospital for Black people in Kansas City, she moved to Kansas City to work with her husband at the hospital. The couple had one son. Perry became involved in the African American women's clubs’ movement. Perry had been a juvenile court worker, and she was specifically concerned with rectifying the harsh treatment of dependent adolescent Black children who were often placed in a state institution for juvenile delinquents until they reached their majority.

In 1923, she initiated the formation of the Missouri State Association of Colored Girls, sponsored by the senior women’s association; Kansas City was one of the first cities to have such a group. In 1934, with the help of the Kansas City Federation of Colored Women’s Club, she founded the Colored Big Sister Home for Girls. Fredericka also served as the chairperson of the National Association of Colored Girls.

She composed the words of the state song "Show Me"; and the motto "Learning as We Climb" for the Missouri State Association of Colored Girls. Perry also helped found the Civic Protective Association in Kansas City, served as a trustee of the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association and was a member of the John Brown Memorial Association. Fredericka Perry died on October 23, 1943, at Wheatley-Provident Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

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