Perseverance and Public Service
Frederick Yates was born on October 3, 1914 in Malvern, Arkansas. At age 11, his family made the move to Detroit. Yates graduated from Northwestern High School (1932) where he ran with the track team. He earned a B.A. from West Virginia State College (1936); a law degree from the Detroit College of Law. To pay for his education, he worked as a playground supervisor with the Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as working factory jobs at Ford Motor and US Rubber. In 1941, he began his law practice and by 1948, he was appointed Wayne County Public Administrator.
Frederick Yates was a great study in determination and perseverance. In 1961, he was the first black man to run for Mayor of the City of Detroit; he was unsuccessful this attempt. He served two terms in State House of Representatives representing Wayne County’s 4th District from 1955 – 1962. Yates elected to the Wayne County Board of Commissioners in 1968 [after many unsuccessful attempts] serving as the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He was re-elected in 1970 and died after a long illness on October 9, 1971. His body was on view at the Detroit City County Building for citizen mourners to pay their respects.
Frederick Yates lived on LaSalle St. in the Linwood neighborhood of Detroit. He served as the President of the Linwood Community Organization as he was dedicated to revitalization of this area torn apart by the 1967 riots. He was active in his church and regularly bowled in the Dexter Monday Night Bowling League.
The playground honoring him was dedicated on September 18, 1973 and is located at Linwood on Pingree Street. The park is tidy but lacks signage and play equipment. The basketball court and picnic shelter are really old. Some of the fencing has been scrapped. A positive stroke is that this play area has plenty of garbage cans, not joking. It is currently maintained by a nearby church community group. They indicate keeping the park mowed and clean is a true boost to the neighborhood however; the park is underutilized due to a high level of robbery in this area of Detroit.
Here’s hoping that 2015 will be a turning point year for Linwood – a ton of history in that neighborhood.