Lubbock gathers to celebrate life, legacy of T.J. Patterson

Patterson was the first African-American on Lubbock City Council
Published: Oct. 8, 2022 at 7:58 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbockites gathered at the Broadway Church of Christ on Saturday morning to celebrate the life and legacy of T.J. Patterson, former District 2 councilman and activist.

“T.J. was just a connected pioneer for the community,” attendee Kay Austin said. “Regardless of diversity, he always had that willing hand.”

T.J. Patterson was born June 29, 1937. He died on September 21, 2022. He was a Vietnam veteran who spent those 85 years in public service, including many decades in the Hub City.

“Just to have him as our first black council member here in Lubbock, that was just a great blessing, just an inspiration knowing that,” Austin said.

Patterson was also the first African American to be elected president of the Texas Municipal League (TML), and a co-founder of the Texas Association of Black City Council Members (TABCCM).

District 2 resident Carolyn Gilbert says T.J. Patterson was a man of his word.

“If you needed something done and you called T.J., it was done,” Gilbert said. “Because I called him numerous times, I called him about the dogs, and the trees, trash on the lot, and it always was taken care of.”

Gilbert says he was the man with the infectious laugh, and always encouraging you to be the best version of yourself possible.

“He was always the person that would give you a positive word, and encourage you to do the things that you thought you could not do,” Gilbert said.

After serving District 2 on the city council for two decades, Patterson still spent his time caring for people in Lubbock. He visited the Lubbock County Detention Center every Christmas, continued his newspaper called the Southwest Digest, and continued his work as an advocate for people who needed help.

T.J. Patterson shaking the hand of an inmate on Christmas in 2013.
T.J. Patterson shaking the hand of an inmate on Christmas in 2013.(KCBD)

“He always had a smile on his face, his hand was always extended in friendship, and I don’t think Lubbock could’ve had a better ambassador for our city than T.J. Patterson,” attendee Monte Monroe said.

Kay Austin, travelled from Dallas-Fort Worth to honor him Saturday. They say they can’t thank T.J. Patterson enough.

“We’re so grateful for him pouring into us and God lending him and his family to us, it has been a divine blessing,” Austin said.

Austin says Lubbock must continue his legacy. Many agree and say there is only one T.J.

“He’ll be missed,” Gilbert said.

T.J. Patterson was 85.