Monday, October 9, 2017

Equal Opportunity Hero ~ ~ ~ ~ Blog Tour & Review!

T.J. Patterson's Service to West Texas

  Genre: Biography / African American Leaders
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
on Twitter  ┃ on Facebook
Date of Publication: November 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 277

On April 7, 1984, T. J. Patterson became the first African American elected to the Lubbock City Council, winning handily over his four opponents. It was a position he would go on to hold for more than twenty years, and his natural leadership would lead him to state and national recognition.

Patterson grew up during a time of American social unrest, protest, and upheaval, and he recounts memorable instances of segregation and integration in West Texas. As a two-year-old, he survived polio when African Americans were excluded from "whites only" hospitals. When he attempted to enroll at Texas Tech after graduating from all-black Bishop College, he was not allowed even to enter the administration building--the president would speak with him only outside, and then only to say Patterson could not be enrolled. Two years later, his aunt would become the first African American to attend Texas Tech.

Patterson spent his whole adult life as a grassroots activist, and as a city councilman he understood how important it was to work in solid partnership with representatives from the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods of the city. Over the years, Patterson took every opportunity to join African American and Hispanic forces, but with a few exceptions, the traditional geographic divide of the minority population limited his efforts--and yet Patterson never gave up. His brave public marches to homes of known drug dealers brought attention to their undesirable activities. Patterson also supported city investment in Lubbock history and culture, plus new development activity, from annexation to paved roads to water mains to fire stations. During his long career he truly was an equal-opportunity hero for all of Lubbock's citizens.

HALL WAYS REVIEW: ✪✪✪✪✪ Author Phil Price begins Equal Opportunity Hero by telling us where we are going to end up. Clearly, the author knows Patterson well, which enables him to provide angles and perspectives that some biographers simply don't have on their subject matter. The result in Equal Opportunity Hero is that the biography is infused with T.J. Patterson’s voice and vibrant personality.  I would have liked a more linear timeline, which would have avoided some repetition of information; as it is, it's one year forward, ten (or thirty) years back. However, the way Equal Opportunity Hero is written makes it feel like listening to stories told around the dinner table with that uncle who knows his dates. It’s comfortable, enjoyable, and filled with fascinating asides. (For example, Patterson’s Aunt Rose was a bootlegger, but bootlegging was important to the economy. Liquor was even stored at Lubbock churches because they wouldn’t be raided, and Lubbock was known as "the wettest dry town in the nation.")

Congressman Randy Neugebauer said in 2004 that T.J. Patterson is a man of many firsts. Patterson had his pulse on the black community and where there was a need, he stepped-up and helped meet it. Whether it was forming a black community newspaper (the Southwest Digest that is to this day still running strong), serving in local or state government and on committees (usually as the first black to do so), or doing outreach work for his church, Patterson lives it as he says it:  "We shouldn’t wait around for other people to do what we should do ourselves."

Driven, and dedicated to self-improvement to better serve others, in every position he held, Patterson always managed to take the role one step further to help more people or better help them. Patterson was always well-received and is charismatic. And he is not only personally responsible for effecting great change, he is often connected to it. It is in this way that Equal Opportunity Hero is not just a biography of one man; it's chock full of details and references to what was going on in the bigger picture of what it was and is to be a black American -- including the most horrific statistics (3,437 blacks lynched between 1882 and 1951; the 1923 ordinance defining "The Flats" area of Lubbock; the violent response to the Freedom Riders in 1961) and touchstones for the civil rights movement, all which put what Patterson was doing in context. As a young man, Patterson went from accepting that segregation was just the way it was, to deciding "it was about time" when protests began -- particularly when students from his alma mater (Bishop College) were involved. He believed in equality, and said, "You see, you don’t ever know who’s going to bring you a cup of water. It behooves us to treat all humans fair.” 

To Patterson, it all boils down to the importance of family & community. I enjoyed reading about his family dynamics and attitudes on discipline and respect - and loving parental discipline. Of Patterson's view on parenting, Price says Patterson believes, "children need a strong and steady adult hand in their raising, a hand that extends to their back side sometimes." Whatever Patterson and his wife did was successful, as his three children all lead lives steeped in service to their communities as public servants and active church members - and daughter Shelia has made things come full circle by occupying her father's old seat on the Lubbock City Council.

Significant portions of the book are about people other than Patterson, but who were integral to his life, including family members, his friend and business partner Eddie Richardson, and numerous community and political figures. Again, all the information presented is in context of the bigger picture of what was happening in our nation and world regarding civil rights movements. Author Phil Price enlightens the readers, presenting Lubbock and West Texas black history lessons I would venture to say most have never learned.

Price’s writing is immaculate and the book is cleanly edited, so there is nothing to interfere with the enjoyment of the book. The foreword, written by T.J. Patterson himself, is excellent in providing perspective to the rest of the book. Additionally, mid-point in the book, there is a wonderful selection of photos, and finishing out the book are end notes (organized by chapter) and an index, both which make it easy for the reader to navigate the book.

I highly recommend this book not only for anyone who’s lived in or been to Lubbock, but for a wider audience of readers who want to see a model of a life well-lived, a life of “solutions and action, not rhetoric,” and a truly remarkable man.

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Texas Tech University Press for providing me an eBook copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

Phil Price has been friends with T. J. Patterson for more than twenty years. Now retired, Price was President and CEO of a marketing and design agency. Over the years he has served the Lubbock Independent School District, the Lubbock Better Business Bureau, the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, and other city agencies. He lives in Lubbock USA, with his wife, Victoria.

Author Interview

   blog tour services provided by

No comments:

Post a Comment