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Jefferson, Frieda Parker



  • Existence: September 9, 1928 - July 14, 2020

Biographical Information

Frieda Alice Parker Jefferson was born in Indianapolis in 1928. Her parents, Frederick and Frieda (Campbell), were adovcates for the benefits of a college education and strongly encouraged Frieda and her siblings to continue their educations beyond high school. Jefferson graduated second in her class from Crispus Attucks High School (1946) in Indianapolis, where her father taught math, and which was still segregated at the time.

After graduating high school, Jefferson and her younger sister Winifred enrolled at Purdue University in the fall of 1946. However, at this time, African American women students lived in the segregated areas of Lafayette because they were not allowed to live on campus or anywhere within West Lafayette city limits. Frieda and her sister, together with their parents, demanded that the University allow them to live on campus as was the policy for most incoming women students. Although their request was intially denied, the family continued to appeal the decision and enlisted the support of the Black community around the state. Eventually the decision was overturned by Governor Ralph Gates, who directed the university to integrate its student housing. After the decision was reversed, Frieda and Winifred became the first Black students to live on campus (or in town) at Purdue University.

Jefferson earned her B.S. in Home Economics from Purdue University in 1950. After earning her degree, Jefferson began a lifelong career as an educator, the majority of which was spent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jefferson's career spanned over 50 years in Milwaukee Public Schools where she was a much loved and respected teacher of home economics. In Milwaukee, Jefferson was a founding member of the teacher's union, the founder of the "school to work program," and helped to create child development and day care programs there. Jefferson remained committed to service throughout her life, and was a member of the NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta, Purdue Black Alumni Association, and the Milwaukee Links. She was an active advocate of civil and equal rights throughout her lifetime.

Frieda married Ralph Jefferson Jr in 1952, and had two sons with him: Ralph III and Brian. In addition to their children, the Jeffersons were known for caring for many other children and family members. Frieda Parker Jefferson passed away July 14, 2020.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (2020, July 23-24). Frieda Parker Jefferson. Legacy. Retrieved from:

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Frieda Parker Jefferson obituary

 Unprocessed — Box: Communal Accessions 50
Identifier: 2022-021

2015 Sagamore Sankofa Award Dinner video

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 272
Content Description Contain three videos of the 2015 Sagamore Sankofa Award Dinner, which took place on November 7, 2015 in the Purdue Memorial Union. This event celebrated African American alumni who have courageously moved beyond boundaries in their respective careers and communities. It also inaugurated of the Pioneering Purdue Women Award. One video is the full event while another is an abbreviated version of it. The third video is of Frieda Parker Jefferson, Class of 1950. Jefferson was one of the two...
Dates: November 7, 2015