Frederick P. ‘Pope’ Charleston Sr., an attorney who represented the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, dies

Frederick P. “Pope” Charleston Sr. ran for a judgeship on the Circuit Court of Baltimore.

Frederick P. “Pope” Charleston Sr., an attorney who represented the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, died of primary progressive aphasia Sept. 3 at his Catonsville home. He was 76.

Born in Indianapolis, he was the son of John Burke Charleston Sr., a general contractor, and Ruby Nash, a nurse.


“Fred grew up in a loving household, the fourth of six children,” said his wife, the former Jeanne Bogle. “As a child and teenager in Indianapolis, he was involved in sports, playing football, basketball and baseball. At Shortridge High School, Fred lettered in two sports — baseball and basketball — and was a member of the school’s marching band and school newspaper.”

He attended what was then Southern Colorado State College in Pueblo on a basketball and baseball scholarship. After two years, he transferred to Howard University in Washington, D.C.


While at Howard, he was initiated into the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and remained active in the organization throughout his life. He later became a member of the Howard University Alumni Association.

He met the love of his life at the school, his future wife. They initially met at a student party. After their marriage, they lived in Colorado.

Mr. Charleston received a scholarship to the University of Colorado Law School. While a law student, he embraced legal activism; he became vice chairman and co-founder of the CU chapter of the Black American Law Student Association.

He was also a participant in the Legal Aid and Public Defender Program, a tutor in the Minority Law Program and a minority adviser to the school admissions committee. In his last year at school, he interned at the Boulder Public Defender’s Office.

After receiving his law degree, Mr. Charleston was awarded a grant from the Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship Program. Under this program, he joined the staff of Denver’s East Side Legal Aid and became its staff director two years later.

He also taught community college paralegal courses and became the National Conference of Black Lawyers’ director of Region VI.

Mr. Charleston joined Denver service groups and participated in programs associated with the prisoners’ rights movement.

He traveled to Cuba with a group of Black lawyers to research prison conditions. There, he met Huey Percy Newton, a founder of the Black Panther Freedom Party. Mr. Charleston was involved with the effort to secure Mr. Newton’s safe passage to the U.S. after his years in exile.


Mr. Charleston moved to Baltimore when he was named an attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was based at the Rotunda. He later joined the law offices of William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr.

Mr. Charleston ran unsuccessfully for a judgeship on the Circuit Court of Baltimore.

“He enjoyed doing the campaigning, and he got to meet a lot of people,” his wife said.

He remained in private practice and kept an office in Pikesville off Reisterstown Road. He lived for many years on Bateman Avenue in Northwest Baltimore.

Mr. Charleston was an active parent and belonged to the Hilton Elementary School PTA. He was a coach on his sons’ little league baseball team.

“Fred adored his children and instilled in them his commitment to education and the understanding to not forget where you came from,” his wife said. “People have suffered to get programs which we have now.”


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Family members said Mr. Charleston loved watching movies and TV shows and listening to varied musical styles. He watched thoroughbred horse racing, read John Grisham novels and joined friends in games of golf.

He played cards and watched his children and grandchildren at performances and athletic events.

“He loved life, and his boisterous and charming personality will be missed,” his wife said.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Jeanne Bogle, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researcher; two sons, Pelé Charleston of Los Angeles and Hassan Charleston of Baltimore; a daughter, Ayana Charleston of Coral Springs, Florida; two brothers, John B. Charleston Jr. of Atlanta and Juan Charleston Sr. of Indianapolis; two sisters, Janice Spearman of Denver and Lessie Crawley of Indianapolis; and six grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the March Life Tribute Center, 5616 Old Court Road in Windsor Mill.