Frederick Wayman “Duke” Slater


Frederick Wayman “Duke” Slater Famous memorial

Normal, McLean County, Illinois, USA
Death 14 Aug 1966 (aged 67)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Glenwood, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Plot Garden of Good Shepard
Memorial ID 37072740 View Source

Professional Football Player, Civil Rights pioneer. Frederick "Duke" Slater was an exceptional athlete and pioneer in sports. He grew-up in central Illinois the son of a preacher. His family moved to Clinton, Iowa when his father took a job at a church there. Although his father forbid him to play football, he went out for the team anyway. Players were required to purchase there own helmet and shoes. Since Slater could not afford to buy both, he played without a helmet, leading the Clinton High School team to the state championship game his freshman year. In 1918 Slater began attending the University of Iowa, where he was named All Big Ten three years in a row while continued playing without a helmet. He became the first black All-American in Iowa school history in 1921. That year he was also part of a college football classic, and one of the University of Iowa's greatest athletic moments, when the Hawkeyes defeated Knute Rockne's Notre Dame team 10-7 on their way to a perfect season. The win ended a 20 game Notre Dame winning streak that had spanned 3 seasons. After graduation, Slater was one of a handful of African American pioneers to play professional football, spending time with Milwaukee, Rock Island, and the Chicago Cardinals, earning a reputation as one of the greatest tackles to ever play the game. He married Etta Searcy in 1926, the daughter of a preacher. He was the only African-American player in professional football in 1927 and 1929. During this time, he faced discrimination in many ways at hotels where his teams stayed, restaurants where they ate, and even being forced to sit out a game against Kansas City in 1924 (the Cardinals lost that game). The NFL later excluded blacks completely from 1934 to 1945. But Slater's reputation then and always was one of fairness and gentlemanly sportsmanship. During the off seasons, Slater returned to the University of Iowa to complete his law degree, which he received in 1928. He began practicing law while still playing for the Cardinals. After his retirement from football, he became an Assistant District Attorney and in 1948 he was elected judge to the Municipal Court of Cook County, receiving nearly 1 million votes. In 1951 he was one of the original inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame. The University of Iowa named one of their residence halls in his honor in spite of, or because of, an unspoken agreement during his era, he attended the school that had prevented blacks from living in the campus dorms

Bio by: Don M

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Don M
  • Added: 14 May 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 37072740
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Frederick Wayman “Duke” Slater (19 Dec 1898–14 Aug 1966), Find a Grave Memorial ID 37072740, citing Mount Glenwood Memory Gardens South, Glenwood, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .