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Patrick, Deval L. (1956 - )

Deval L. Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts was elected in 2006.  He became at that time only the second African American elected as a state Governor in the history of the United States.  Patrick was born on July 31, 1956 in Chicago to Laurdine Pat Patrick and Emily Mae Wintersmith, and raised in the Robert Taylor housing project on that city’s “South Side.”  His father’s career as a jazz musician (with the Sun Ra band) often took him away from home. Occasionally, Patrick travelled with his father, especially to New York City, where he often stayed with the family of the African drummer, Babatunde Olatunji and his wife Amy. After his  parents were estranged, Patrick and his older sister were raised by his working mother.

Benefiting from A Better Chance, a national non-profit organization which identified and recruited academically gifted African American students, Patrick was selected to attend Milton High School Academy.  Upon his graduation in 1974 he entered Harvard University.  After completing his undergraduate education at Harvard in 1978, Patrick worked for one year for the United Nations in the (pre-genocide) Darfur region of Sudan.  He then returned to Harvard to earn a law degree in 1982.  Two years later he married Diane Bemus, a labor and employment attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.  

Deval Patrick then served as a law clerk for 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt and as a staff for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.  In 1986 he joined Hill and Barlow, a prominent Boston’s law firms, rising to partner in 1990.  Patrick represented Desiree Washington, the former Rhode Island beauty queen in her civil lawsuit against former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.  

President Bill Clinton appointed Patrick Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in 1994, where he established a distinguished record prosecuting hate crimes and church bombings, employment discrimination, and fair lending cases.  He was also a staunch defender of affirmative action

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