Gwen Patton

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Gwendolyn Marie Patton ... is an Alabama activist.

Early life/education

Gwen Patton was born on October 14, 1943 in Detroit, Michigan to Jeanetta and Clarence Patton. After the death of her mother in 1957, Gwendolyn and her siblings moved to Montgomery, Alabama. She attended George Washington Carver High School and graduated in 1961 with academic honors. She went on to receive her B.A. degree in English and history from Tuskegee Institute in 1966.[1].

Academic career

In 1972, Patton received her M.A. degree in education from Antioch University in Washington, D.C. and returned home to Alabama to accept a position as director of the Alabama State University Academic Advising Center. She later held the University's Freshman Coordinator position from 1981 to 1986. Patton received her Ph.D. (ABD) from Union Graduate University Consortium and her LL.D. from the Interdenominational Institute of Technology.

Patton is listed in the International Who's Who of Intellectuals and is designated as a "Special Scholar" by the Institute of Higher Education and Research at the University of Alabama.

In 1992, Patton became an archivist for Trenholm Technical College, where she has assisted in establishing one of the few archives in the United States at a two year college[2].


Patton coined the phrase "scholar-activist" and urged students to work in the community for social, political and economic change. She was also the Direct Action Chair for the Tuskegee Institute Advancement League, which planned strategies to desegregate Macon County in all areas, especially employment.

Though her grandmother's rental property was the Freedom House that was used by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the Civil Rights Movement, Patton herself was active with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Patton founded the National Anti-War Anti-Draft Union against the War in Vietnam in 1969, the National Association of Black Students, and the New Alabama New South Coalition. She was selected to be an Aspen Institute Fellow and also wrote and published The Insurgent Memories in 1981[3].

Henderson connection


Gwen Patton with Stephanie Guilloud and Ash-Lee Henderson.

Southern Organizing Committee for Racial and Economic Justice

Heather Gray served on the board of the Southern Organizing Committee for Racial and Economic Justice that Anne Braden co-chaired along with Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. The organization " was one of the few that provided the opportunity for us to think and act regionally and to make the essential connections of the myriad of issues we faced. From the 1980’s and on the meetings were always filled with a diversity of black, white and eventually Latino activists in the region".

We would sit for hours in New Orleans, Montgomery or Birmingham to strategize on various issues, activities and mistakes we’ve made then and in the past. We would also listen, learn and occasionally join in while the legendary leaders in our midst discussed and analyzed the dynamics of white supremacy, racial politics generally and labor challenges in the South. Anne was never without offering a lengthy epistle about anything until the wee hours of the night along with her ever-present cigarettes! These sessions were often both grueling and enlightening. They were not only a history lesson but also a socialization process into the tactics of southern civil rights activism and Anne understood the importance of this. She wanted to pass this information on to all of us and to keep the momentum going at every conceivable juncture. The meetings were a roll call of southern leaders and activists the likes of Reverend C. T. Vivian, Jack O'Dell, Gwen Patton, Virginia Durr, Reverend Fred Taylor, Reverend James Orange, Connie Tucker, John Zippert, Jackie Ward, Reverend Benjamin Chavis, Charlie Orrock, Ann Romaine, Damu Smith, Jim Dunn, Judy Hand, Scott Douglas, Ron Chisholm, Spiver Gordon, Pat Bryant, Tirso Moreno and countless others.[4]

National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation

Gwen Patton-Woods, Former Co-ordinator of National Association of Black Students was named as a sponsor of the Communist Party USA dominated National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation held at Dunbar Vocational High School, Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago, October 19 to 21 1973.[5]



SURVIVAL FEST 84 was held August 5 1984 in MacArthur Park.

"Come To Hear And Strategize With Those Changing The 1980's"

  • How can we support each other in electing progressive local candidates?
  • How can we make electoral work serve the grassroots movements for a freeze, for U.S. out of Central America and human needs?
  • How can we over turn the racist dual primary system in the South?
  • Is working inside and outside the Democratic Party a viable strategy and how can it be done?
  • How can we formulate demands to revitalize our basic industries without falling into the pitfall of the chauvinist anti-import solution -- letting U.S. finance capital off the hook?

This event was organized by the Communist Workers Party front, the Coalition for a People's Convention. The event was advertised in a half-page notice in the Marxist weekly Guardian, their Book Supplement - Summer 1984, p. 12, and the Communist Workers Party and Federation For Progress were listed as participants.

National endorsers of the event included Gwen Patton - Delta Sigma Theta Inc., Montgomery, Alabama - veteran leftist activist .

1987 Rainbow conference/Board

At the 1987 National Rainbow convention in Raleigh North Carolina, a new board was elected, which included Gwen Patton.

Gwen Patton, a longtime Alabama activist and former Rainbow Coalition board member. In Montgomery black politicians collaborated with the white media to attack Jackson and his supporters, even working the polls against him, offering “unsolicited voter’s assistance.” But Jackson won the black vote in the state, as he did nationwide. As Patton wrote in a biting 1984 analysis in The Journal of Intergroup Relations: “Jackson restored human dignity–the essence of freedom which had been sapped by Black politicians in the wake of the people’s victory to wrest their citizenship rights from the segregationists. Jackson’s candidacy proved that…true leaders are advocates–are waves, as Shirley Chisholm so eloquently says, pushed ahead by the Movement ship steered by the masses.” [6]

Forward Motion

Gwen Patton, field director, Southern Rainbow Education Project, Montgomery Alabama, contributed an article "Black people and war" to Freedom Road Socialist Organization's Forward Motion, May 1991 issue.

People's Progressive Convention

In 1992, a "call" went out to leftist radicals and communist revolutionaries of various orientations to hold a national People's Progressive Convention in Ypsilanti, Michigan, August 21-23, 1992.

Endorsers included Gwen Patton - Southern Rainbow Education Project.

1993 NCIPA National Steering Committee

As of Spring 1993, the National Committee for Independent Political Action Steering Committee included Gwen Patton.

New Party builder

New Party News Fall 1994 listed over 100 New Party activists-"some of the community leaders, organizers, retirees,, scholars, artists, parents, students, doctors, writers and other activists who are building the NP" the list included Gwen Patton , Southern Rainbow Education Project

Independent Progressive Politics Network

In 2009 Gwen Patton served on the Advisory Committee of the Independent Progressive Politics Network[7].