Deval Patrick -- first black governor of Massachusetts, third black governor in U.S. history -- was also representing Brooklyn when he gave his impassioned address to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night.
"If you want the change our country yearns for, if you want leadership that inspires us to bring the best that we have and the best that we are to a renewed American cause . . . then let’s join hands and go to work to elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States!" Patrick exhorted to thunderous applause as he ended his speech.
Patrick has been a singular presence in the campaign of Barack Obama from the very beginning. It was even suggested along the way that the Obama campaign engaged in some fraternal borrowing of themes from Patrick's own run for governor two years ago. (read)
But Patrick's special meaning to us in Brooklyn is that he is from this place, and he has shown a son's affection for it. By marriage and otherwise, his roots are very much here.
Gov. Patrick is married to Diane Bemus Patrick, who was born in Brooklyn and is a grandchild of Bertram L. Baker, who in 1948 became the very first black person elected to public office in Brooklyn (he was a State Assemblyman representing Bedford-Stuyvesant and served for twenty two years).
Patrick, throughout his political career, has expressed his tender and grateful feelings for grandfather Bert Baker, who died in 1985 but was present when Deval and Diane were married in 1984, and whose photo has appeared on Diane and Deval's websites over the years.
Diane and Deval lived in Brooklyn through the mid 1980s, and their older daughter Sarah was born here. Younger daughter Katherine was featured in the introduction of Gov. Patrick's Tuesday night address. (find the full text here.)
[Let me say also, in the interest of full disclosure, that Diane is a first cousin of BrooklynRon, who is also a grandchild of the late Bertram L. Baker. Click here to read about a recent honor bestowed posthumously on Bertram Baker by the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, where Bert Baker was born and from which he emigrated almost a century ago.)
Brooklynites don't like to boast, but we also want to point out here that two out of the three black governors is U.S. history have Brooklyn roots. One, of course, is Deval. The other is Gov. David Paterson of New York, who was born in Brooklyn.
Doug Wilder of Virginia, the first black governor, does not have this distinguished background, despite his fine character and talents, but let's not go there.
[Journalists and others, we included, use a shorthand in saying there have been three black governors in U.S. history; but it should be pointed out that for 36 days in 1872-72, P.B.S. Pinchback, an African-American, served as acting governor of Louisiana while the sitting governor was being impeached. That's why the phrase, "in post Reconstruction America," is sometimes used in referring to Deval, Doug Wilder and David Paterson, as it excludes Pinchback. Hey, it's all about keeping it simple.)
You all, especially readers here, may have noted that Brooklyn is doing pretty well during this DNC gathering. It was pointed out in a previous BrooklynRon post that the whole Convention was planned and is being executed by a Brooklynite, Leah Daughtry. (read)
On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Paterson of Brooklyn gave a brief address. (read it here.)