LUBBOCK, Texas — T.J. Patterson, Lubbock’s first Black city council member and father of current Councilwoman Shelia Patterson-Harris, died Wednesday morning. Patterson-Harris began notifying family members. Patterson was elected to the council in 1984 and served 20 years.
Patterson was also the publisher of the Southwest Digest which he cofounded with Eddie Richardson. Its last issue was in May 2022.
Among other things, Patterson led marches in the streets of Lubbock to protest against drugs and violence.
Patterson was born in Waxahachie June 29, 1937, and grew up in Wichita Falls.
“My grandmother was a slave child,” he said in 2016 video interview. His stepfather was a laborer.
He said that in 1959 he was not allowed to attend Texas Tech, which was still a college and not a university yet. He graduated from Bishop College instead.
He moved to Lubbock to take a job at a private school called Marion Mac. He also spent time serving in the Army in Vietnam.
Phil Price wrote “Equal Opportunity Hero: T.J. Patterson’s Service to West Texas” which was published by Texas Tech University Press in 2017.
Funeral arrangements were still pending as of Wednesday morning. He was aged 85.
“I always had the greatest respect for my friend. Through the years we agreed on many things, and disagreed on only a few. His commitment to his principles never wavered,” said former Lubbock city councilman Paul R. Beane. “His respectful treatment of all people was always on display, whether he was representing our city at the Texas Municipal League, or visiting jail inmates on Christmas Day. A fighter to the end, he will be missed.”
Lubbock Mayor Tray Payne said Patterson was a pioneer:
“Lubbock lost a hero today. T.J. Patterson was a pioneer and a true public servant in the West Texas community,” Payne said. “We are forever grateful for everything he did for Lubbock. Our thoughts and prayers go to the Patterson family during this difficult time.”
Lubbock ISD released a statement on social media:
“The Lubbock ISD family is saddened by the loss of Lubbock pioneer T.J. Patterson. A prominent civic servant for decades, Mr. Patterson was Lubbock’s first Black council member and a community pillar,” the statement said. “We are forever grateful for his leadership in our community.”