Lew Frederick: An Oregon State Senate’s Perspective on Life

Lew Frederick, a member of the Oregon Senate from the 22nd district serving in the Oregon legislature, believes that living a successful life means to have made things better for the generations that come after him. Many of his beliefs and core values come from living next to one of the most infamous and impactful leaders in American history, Martin Luther King Junior.

Playing with Dr. King’s kids on a regular basis, Frederick saw him as a father figure. He distinctly remembers Dr. King always telling him to, “quit running through the house and sit down and listen for once.”  Not only did the pair have a family-like bond, but Frederick got to know him as an icon as well. Dr. King presented many speeches, such as, “I’ve been to the Mountaintop,” and, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” that truly showed him what courage and power means. One of the most memorable moments Frederick had with Dr. King occurred on one of the many marches him and his family participated in side-by-side with the civil rights leader. The participants had encountered members of the Ku Klux Klan that were throwing ice and burned cigarettes at people. Frederick was terrified, but Dr. King said to “just keep going”. The brave words stick with him to this day.

Martin Luther King was an important mentor in Frederick’s life. However, he was not the only one. Frederick also found mentors when living in his close-knit childhood community. In his community, everybody looked out for each other and knew their neighbors very well. Frederick said that whenever something happened to him, his mother would hear about it before he even got home because others reported the incident to her right away.

The lessons that his mentors taught him have followed him throughout his very diverse career. In the past, he was a dancer, musician, reporter, teacher, actor,  and had many other occupations. Throughout all of his working experience, he had the idea in his mind that he did everything in an attempt to make things better. He has seen a lot of poverty in different places that gave him the urge to make a difference. Frederick met an eye-opening situation of poverty when he attended a family reunion of 287 people in Clarksdale, Mississippi. At the reunion, a family member talked about how excited she was that the old, cardboard walls of her house were replaced by new cardboard. Inspired then more than ever, he found an opportunity to positively impact citizens through entering the political field.

Frederick lives life joyfully and successfully as one of the respected voices of Oregon, and his childhood mentors have greatly shaped the beliefs that have influenced his choices and shaped his future.