Fred N. Thomas

“His Life Made a Difference”

“He always looked at things as they should be and asked “Why not?”

Fred N. Thomas was scheduled to be the original primary plaintiff in the historic ‘Keyes vs.  Denver Board of Education’ case, but Governor Love appointed him to the Colorado Commission of Higher Education, the first black person on that board, and Fred withdrew his name (not his work, nor his research) from the school integration case to ensure there would not be a conflict of interest.  Later reappointed to the CCHE by Governor Lamm, he kept pushing the Commission towards excellence of education for all who wanted to learn. He was proudest of the lawsuit he helped organize in 1967 as chairman of the Park Hill Action Committee which resulted in redrawing the old, gerrymandered district into cohesive neighborhoods, reflecting (as the Colorado Supreme Court Affirmed) an equal population distribution.

The organizations he served as board member were as diverse as his friends and interests: The Denver Center for Performing Arts; The Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission; The Colorado Urban League; The Metropolitan Sewage Disposal District; The Metro Denver Urban Coalition, which he helped found; The Colorado Outward Bound School Trustees; Adopt-a-School Board; and the Community Education Council.

He also served on Boards of the Red Shield Youth Center of the Salvation Army, the United Way, the Administrative Board of Park Hill United Methodist Church and the Katrina Barnes Scholarship Committee.

The Mayor’s Citizens Budget Advisory Committee claimed some of his time as did the Mayor’s Interagency Council on Emergency Planning, the Colorado Safety Association and Boy Scouts of America (whom, he served as assistant district commissioner), and the East Denver Higher Education Center, which helped hundreds of minority youth to prepare for college.  He also encouraged young people to apply for Civil Service and he was a member and volunteer tutor for Civil Service Planning Staff.

Fred helped found the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center, Citizens for One Community, and the Equal Educational Opportunity Funds which helped finance the original legal research for the Keyes school desegregation case, which set a legal pattern for northern school districts.

Among his many honors were the Barney Ford Community Award for Education, the Federal Executive Board Award for Outstanding Achievement in Equal Opportunity, the Mayor’s Award for Public Service, and the Martin Luther King award for “lifetime pioneering community service in the spirit of the late Dr. King.”

Fred N. Thomas was always where the action was, with a quiet passion for the rights of all people, he helped change things for the better.

The full name of this school is The Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center Early College, which you can see is a very long name and is often shortened to CEC or CEC Early College, but rest assured the legacy of Fred N. Thomas lives on through our mission vision and everyday work.