Deval Patrick takes the oath of office as Massachusetts governor as his wife, Diane, holds the Bible outside the Statehouse in Boston, Jan. 4. With his hand on a Bible once owned by John Quincy Adams, Mr. Patrick was sworn in as Massachusetts? first black governor, and only the second black elected governor in U.S. history. The Bible that Patrick used as he repeated the oath of office had been given to Adams by slaves from the Spanish ship Amistad who revolted in 1839. Photo: AP/World Wide Photos
BOSTON - When Deval Patrick was sworn in as Governor of Massachusetts Jan. 4, he ushered in a “new day” for politics in the Bay State and the nation.
Mr. Patrick became not only the first Black governor of that state, but he is only the second Black governor ever elected in the United States. Gov. Patrick also became the first Democrat to win that state’s top job in 16 years, and his own personal “rags-to-riches” story is truly an inspiration, his supporters insist.
The new governor took his oath of office with his hand on a Bible that was given to John Quincy Adams—the sixth President of the United States—by slaves he helped free in the Amistad ship, slave revolt.
“I am descended from people once forbidden their most basic and fundamental freedoms, a people desperate for hope and willing to fight for it—and so are you,” Gov. Patrick said in his inaugural address from the Massachusetts Statehouse steps on lofty Beacon Hill to a crowd of thousands that stretched into Boston Common, according to published reports.
Among those looking on was L. Douglas Wilder, who in 1990 became the nation’s first Black elected governor in this country when he was inaugurated in Virginia. Mr. Wilder is now mayor of Richmond, Va.
Gov. Patrick grew up poor on Chicago’s South Side. His father—Pat Patrick—is a well-known jazz tenor saxophonist who played in the legendary Sun Ra Orchestra. The new governor rose above his humble South Side roots, attended Harvard University and its law school, and then worked as a civil rights lawyer for the poor.
Later, Gov. Patrick worked for a corporate law firm in Boston. During the Clinton administration, he led the Justice Department’s civil rights division. He later became an executive at Texaco Inc. and at Coca-Cola Co.
“He’s got a touch of greatness,” a supporter said of him at the conclusion of his five-day inaugural tour of the state, according to the Foxboro SunChronicle.com. “I didn’t support him because of his positions,” said another admirer at a reception where the new governor was treated like a rock star, “I supported him because of his character and integrity.”
“I’m a big supporter of him because he has brought a spirit of hope and opportunity and change to the state,” said another man, a county elected official, the newspaper reported.
In a year filled with many monumental political firsts, the ascent of Mr. Patrick to the governorship of Massachusetts, in which only 5 percent of the population is Black, is the “political story of the year,” columnist Rick Holmes wrote in the Norton, Mass. Mirror Online.
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