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The story of T.J. Patterson, Lubbock’s first African-American city councilman, a weekly newspaper publisher and a life-long advocate for equal rights, has been put to paper.
A book authored by Phil Price titled “Equal Opportunity Hero: T.J. Patterson’s Service to West Texas” and published by Texas Tech University Press was released Saturday. To mark the occasion, Price and Patterson hosted a book signing event at the Bobbie Gean and T.J. Patterson Library in East Lubbock.
The book signing was attended by many of Patterson’s friends and family.
“Thank y’all,” the 80-year-old Patterson told a roomful of people holding the new book about his life and achievements. “I don’t know how many more days I have left, but I thank God for this moment here. I won’t forget it. I didn’t even sleep last night. I didn’t know what to expect, and y’all come out in this cold weather…
“I’m just so glad for this day. I’m just one person in this world wishing for a better place. I’ve got to say this — those of us who live on the east side of Lubbock, please don’t give up. There’s help along the way, y’all. Things are going to happen, I know they’re going to happen. But if you don’t do nothing it’s not going to happen.”
Patterson spent his life doing something. In 1977, he and Eddie Richardson co-founded the Southwest Digest, a weekly publication focused on Lubbock’s black community.
He became the first African-American elected to the Lubbock City Council in 1984 and served in that position for 20 years. He was a leader and a voice in Lubbock’s African-American community. His natural leadership got recognized by many state and national organizations. One of his daughters, Shelia Patterson Harris, now represents Lubbock’s District 2 on the city council.
Price was the president and CEO of Price Group, an advertising, public relations and marketing firm, where he witnessed many of Patterson’s accomplishments and upon retirement chose to document it for others to read. Price had written fiction books before, but this was his first go at non-fiction.
“T.J. Patterson has continuously exhibited honor and respect,” Price said in a news release. “He has worked diligently to pursue equality for all races throughout his life.”
Phil Price’s wife Victoria does most of his public speaking, and helped introduce the book Saturday at the book signing. Victoria also assisted Price in the fact-finding and interviewing process of the book that was nearly a decade in the making.
Victoria sat in on many of the interviews Phil had with Patterson, and said these were in her notes:
“When black people were not allowed in all-white hospitals, T.J. survived polio. When blacks were not allowed to attend Texas Tech, he becomes a professor. When his country asked him to go to war, he did. When blacks did not hold public office, he serves 20 years as city councilman. When blacks did not own major businesses, he established a newspaper. When prisoners needed ministry, he served. When drug dealers occupied his neighborhoods, he confronted. That is T.J. Patterson.”
Victoria spoke with A-J Media the week before the book was released, and said the book is just as much a history book about segregation in Lubbock as it is a biography about Patterson.
“Because of T.J.’s involvement in it, and the things that happened to him during segregation, it’s a very personal book. It makes history come to life,” Victoria said. “T.J. lived it. Phil and I lived through it. He went to go enroll in Texas Tech and the president met him outside on the sidewalk — they wouldn’t let him in the building because he was black. You don’t believe it, but he lived it.”
Victoria said the book will inform people of the struggle that Patterson and members of his community went through, and what Patterson did to knock down barriers.
“How can you not love the man? He’s a gift,” said Victoria. “He tried to do good.”
The new book is available for purchase at Texas Tech University Press, located at 1120 Main Street, and through its website www.ttupress.org. It’s also for sale at Tech’s library book store.
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Source : http://lubbockonline.com/news/2017-12-16/gift-lubbock-tj-patterson-biography-released-through-texas-tech-press