Fred Flowers — The Athlete On The Statue

Mr. Fred Flowers entered Florida State University in 1965, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in1969; he later earned his Masters of Science degree in 1975.  He was the first uniformed African-American athlete on the FSU campus, and first to earn a degree.

He was a Charter member of the Chi Theta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., FSU’s first African-American Greek-letter organization.  The “Super Fine 9” pledge line included Tallahassee Mayor and attorney, John Marks and former CEO of Raytheon Aircraft Corporation, Hansel Tookes.

More than an “Athlete”, Mr. Flowers has a story unlike any other.  Through the doctrine of “Separate But Equal” in public education was overturned in 1954, integration into post-secondary institutions, such as Florida State, did not immediately follow.  In 1962, without the prompting of litigation, FSU modified the admissions policy, and admitted African-American students.   Twelve African-American science teachers enrolled in graduate science courses in the summer of 1962, becoming the first at the university.  In the Fall, the first three full-time students enrolled, two graduate students and one undergraduate.  The undergraduate, Maxwell Courtney, became the first African-American student to graduate in 1965.  Mr. Flowers enrolled in 1965, and became the first African-American to wear an FSU athletics uniform.  In 1970, Mr. Flowers’ sister, Ms. Doby Lee Flowers, was elected the first African-American Homecoming Princess.

The monument titled “Integration” was unveiled during the Heritage Day Celebration on January 30, 2004.  It consists of three figures standing approximately nine feet tall on a circular brick pedestal, and is based on the concept of “beauty, books, and bats”.  The first African-American students faced a multitude of challenges in the efforts of integration on campus.  The students worked for integration in all aspects of campus life, including academic, athletic, and social.  The monument planning committee, University President Sandy D’Alemberte, Doby Flowers, statue sculptor Sandy Proctor, and FSU officials, decided the “beauty” element of the theme and significant social achievement of first Princess be represented by Ms. Flowers, the “books” by first graduate Mr. Courtney, and the “bats” by the first athlete Mr. Flowers.

At his speech during the statue’s unveiling ceremony, Mr. Flowers stated, “Florida State University stands alone as a shining light, as a beacon of diversity and multiculturalism.  This is what the statues represent”.  Mr. Flowers, a native, remains a Tallahassee resident; he has been a Florida Bar member since 1981.  He has a Tallahassee-based law practice.

“As the first African-American uniformed athlete at Florida State University, I walked unto an uneven field of social justice, and it was then I realized, I was not walking alone,” he stated.  “The Integration statue stands for FSU’s valiant efforts to level the fields of opportunity and participation through the embracing of diversity.  The University is to be commended.”