William L. Patterson

William L. Patterson

William L. Patterson (27 August, 1891 – March 5 1980) was a leader in the Communist Party USA and head of the International Labor Defense, a group that offered legal representation to communists, trade unionists, and African-Americans in cases involving issues of political or racial persecution. He was later active in the Civil Rights Congress, and in 1951 presented a document, "We Charge Genocide", to the United Nations, charging the U.S. federal government with complicity in genocide for failing to take action against lynching in the United States.


Patterson was the first African-American graduate of Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley, California, in 1911. In the yearbook, his stated ambition was "to be a second Booker T. Washington". ["Tamalpais Graduate," 1911, Tamalpais Union High School, Mill Valley, California] He was married to Louise Thompson Patterson. He died in 1980. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=William Patterson, Lawyer, Dead at 89. Activist Fought for Black Causes. Joined With Paul Robeson in Accusing U.S. at U.N. Opened Harlem Law Office. |url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10611F83F5F12728DDDAE0894DB405B8084F1D3 |quote=William Patterson, a lawyer and writer active in the American Communist Party for half a century, died Wednesday night at Union Hospital in the Bronx after a prolonged illness. He was 89 years old. |publisher=New York Times |date=March 7 1980 |accessdate=2008-05-31 ]


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