Basil A. Paterson

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Basil Alexander Paterson (April 27, 1926 – April 16, 2014), a labor lawyer, was a longtime political leader in New York and Harlem and the father of the 55th Governor of New York, David Paterson. His mother was Jamaican,[1] and his father was Carriacouan.[2][3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Paterson was born in Harlem on April 27, 1926,[6] the son of Leonard James and Evangeline Alicia (Rondon) Paterson.[7] His father was born on the island of Carriacou in the Grenadines and arrived in the United States aboard the S.S. Vestris on May 16, 1917 in New York City.[5] His mother was born in Kingston, Jamaica and arrived in the United States on September 9, 1919 aboard the S.S. Vestnorge in Philadelphia with a final destination of New York City.[1] A stenographer by profession,[1] the former Miss Rondon once served as a secretary for Marcus Garvey.[6]

Teenage years and education[edit]

In 1942, at the age of 16, Paterson graduated from De Witt Clinton High School in the Bronx. He was shaped by his experiences with racism early on. "I got out of high school when I was 16," Paterson told New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, "and the first real job I had was with a wholesale house in the old Port Authority building, down on 18th Street. We'd pack and load these trucks that went up and down in huge elevators. Every year there would be a Christmas party for the employees at some local hotel. Those of us who worked in the shipping department were black. We got paid not to go to the party."[8] He attended college at St. John's University, but his studies were interrupted by a two-year stint in the U.S. Army during World War II. After serving honorably, he returned to St. John's to complete his undergraduate studies. While there he was very active in social and community service organizations, including among others the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, where he joined the ranks of the Omicron chapter of New York (now at Columbia University) in 1947. Paterson graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in biology in 1948. He was later admitted to St. John's Law School, where he received a Juris Doctor degree in 1951.[6][9]

Political career[edit]

Paterson became involved in Democratic politics in Harlem in the 1950s and 1960s. A member of the "Gang of Four"; along with, former New York Mayor David Dinkins, the late Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, and Congressman Charles Rangel, Paterson was a leader of the "Harlem Clubhouse", which has dominated Harlem politics since the 1960s.[10]

Paterson was a member of the New York State Senate, representing the Upper West Side of New York City and Harlem, from 1966 to 1970, sitting in the 176th, 177th and 178th New York State Legislatures.[8] He gave up his Senate seat in 1970 to run for Lieutenant Governor of New York, as the running mate of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg. The Goldberg/Paterson ticket lost to the Republican incumbents Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Lt. Gov. Malcolm Wilson.

In 1978, Paterson was appointed as a Deputy Mayor of New York City by then Mayor Ed Koch. He stepped down as deputy mayor in 1979 to become Secretary of State of New York, the first African American person to have held the post, and served until the end of the Hugh Carey administration in 1982. Despite having briefly served in the Koch Administration, Paterson made moves to run for Mayor against Koch as the latter sought a third term, but ultimately chose not to run. [11]

Paterson was a member of the law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., where he was co-chair of the firm's labor law practice.[9]

Paterson was the father of former New York Governor David Paterson, who was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2006 on a ticket with Gov. Eliot Spitzer. David Paterson succeeded to the governor's office upon Spitzer's resignation on March 17, 2008. When his son became lieutenant governor, Basil Paterson said that fact may actually "get in the way" of his livelihood as a negotiator and lawyer for the Hospital Workers and Teamsters unions.

Paterson died on April 16, 2014, in Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.[12][13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945 [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. September 9, 1919. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008. Retrieved July 19, 2008. 
  2. ^ Best, Tony (March 16, 2008). "Paterson claims Caribbean roots". The Daily Nation (Barbados). Retrieved March 20, 2008. 
  3. ^ "New NY Govenor [sic] is son of Caribbean nationals". Barbados: Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on March 15, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008. 
  4. ^ "World War I Draft Registration Card [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. June 5, 1917. Archived from the original on July 17, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]". United States: The Generations Network. May 16, 1917. Archived from the original on July 17, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c "Basil A. Paterson Biography". United States: The HistoryMakers. January 18, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2008. 
  7. ^ Phelps, Shirelle (editor) (1998). Who's Who Among African Americans (11th Edition). Detroit, Michigan, London: Gale Research. p. 1005. ISBN 0-7876-2469-1. 
  8. ^ a b Herbert, Bob (March 15, 2008). "The Winds of Albany". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 19, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "Basil A. Paterson". United States: Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2008. 
  10. ^ Schapiro, Rich (December 27, 2009). "Harlem 'trailblazer', former World War II Tuskegee Airmen Percy Sutton dies". Daily News (New York). 
  11. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/1984/09/30/weekinreview/the-region-paterson-decidesto-keep-his-haton-his-head.html
  12. ^ "Basil Paterson dead, trailblazing NY politician and former Gov. David Paterson's father was 87". Newsday. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  13. ^ Roberts, Sam (December 27, 2006). "Paterson & Son, Offices in Harlem and Albany". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 18, 2008. Retrieved March 20, 2008. 

External links[edit]

New York State Senate
Preceded by
Bernard G. Gordon
New York State Senate
31st District

1966
Succeeded by
Ivan Warner
Preceded by
Paul P. E. Bookson
New York State Senate
27th District

1967–1970
Succeeded by
Sidney A. von Luther
Party political offices
Preceded by
Howard J. Samuels
1966
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of New York
1970
Succeeded by
Mary Anne Krupsak
1974
Political offices
Preceded by
Mario Cuomo
Secretary of State of New York
1979–1983
Succeeded by
Gail Shaffer