Long-Time NYC Caribbean American Political Leader Passes

Basil-Patterson
Former NYS State Senator Basil-Patterson.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 18, 2014: Former Caribbean-American New York State Senator and Harlem politician, Basil Patterson, passed away Wednesday night at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York after an extended illness. He was 87.

Patterson was born in Harlem on April 27, 1926 to Leonard James who was born on the island of Carriacou in the Grenadines and Evangeline Alicia (Rondon) Paterson who was born in Kingston, Jamaica and who once served as a secretary for the late Marcus Garvey.

Paterson became involved in Democratic politics in Harlem in the 1950s and 1960s as a member of the “Gang of Four,” which included New York Mayor David Dinkins, former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, and Congressman Charles Rangel.

In 1965, Paterson was elected to the New York State Senate representing the Upper West Side of New York City and Harlem.[  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 ticket of incumbent 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 black person in the post, and served until the end of the Hugh Carey administration in 1982.

In 2013, he was appointed by the New York Senate to serve as a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. At the time of his death he was also 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.

Basil Patterson at the swearing in ceremony of the 55th Governor of NY State Governor David Patterson
Basil Patterson at the swearing in ceremony of the 55th Governor of NY State Governor, his son, David Patterson

Mr. Patterson is survived by his son and former New York State governor, David Paterson, as well as another son, Daniel and his wife, Portia.

Gov. Cuomo praised Paterson as a “model of public leadership, serving the people of New York with integrity and dedication.”

“His legacy inspired a new generation of talented public leadership, a legacy his son Governor David Paterson carried on as Governor. Basil’s spirit will forever be felt in the neighborhoods of Harlem, a community he loved, fought tirelessly for, and called home,” said Cuomo.

New York City Mayor, Bill deBlasio, also paid tribute to Patterson, describing him asa progressive giant who committed his life to lifting up others.”He said he too benefited from the advice and wisdom of Patterson.

“While Basil will certainly be missed, his legacy of progress and achievement will continue to resonate in New York for generations to come,” added Mayor deBlasio.

Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, called Patterson “a trailblazer.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Basil Paterson. His legacy will remain a part of New York for the generations that will follow us. He will be deeply missed,” she added.