Manuscript Group 503 Leroy Patrick Papers, [ca. 1951-2005] (8 cu. ft.)

The Reverend LeRoy Patrick (November 17, 1915 - January 12, 2006) emerged as a central figure in the fight against racism in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the height of the civil rights struggle in America. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Patrick relocated to Philadelphia with his parents during the 1920s. He graduated from Lincoln University in 1939 and earned masters degrees in divinity and sacred theology from Union Theological Seminary in 1942 and 1946. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University in 1964. During the 1950s and 1960s he worked to desegregate pools, restaurants and public institutions in Pittsburgh and during the height of the most violent period of opposition he carried a tire iron in the front of his car in case of attack. He was also a target of great quantities of hate mail. His civil rights activism began in 1951 with a campaign to integrate public swimming pools and spanned the ensuing decades as he championed equal opportunity in education, employment and housing, and served as president of the Pittsburgh School Board. While the swimming pools were not segregated by law in Pennsylvania, black youth were routinely attacked with bricks and rocks for attempting to integrate them. Some neighborhoods drained their pools rather than allow blacks to swim there. Highland Park Pool was the first pool in Pittsburgh to be successfully desegregated. Patrick's profile as a civil rights champion rose to new heights by the late 1950s when he chaired the Allegheny County Council on Civil Rights and the Allegheny County Committee for Fair Housing Practices. He was a strong supporter of the political campaigns of both the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Shirley Chisholm and built the now defunct Bethesda Center in Homewood. He presided over the Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Homewood for thirty-five years and also served seven years on the local school board where he was elected president in 1976. During his later years, Patrick served on the board of the Pittsburgh NAACP and as a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

The papers include correspondence, awards, newsletters, news articles, transcripts of sermons and speeches, student papers, booklets, brochures, civil work record, service appeals, retirement application, greeting cards, and photographs.

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