Trenholm State Community College


Gwen Patton Collection

Gwen Patton has been an activist most of her life. From her involvement with Civil and Voting Rights to student activism to her political involvement, Gwen has always advocated social, political and economic change.


Gwen was born in Detroit, Michigan on 10/14/43 to Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Jeanetta (Bolden) Patton. Robert, a union representative with United Auto Workers Union, and Jeanetta, a graduate of Lewis Business College, encouraged Gwen and her brother, Robert, Jr., to take an interest in schoolwork and to learn as much as possible. They were instilled to have purpose and meaning in life, which included a commitment to do work to "uplift the race." The Patton family on both sides had a long record of being race people. "It was a ritual in our family for us to read the newspapers and then discuss what was happening in the world and what roles we were to play to impact our lives for the better," Gwen said.

Following the death of her mother when she was 16 years old, Gwen moved to Montgomery to live with some of her relatives. She had visited her relatives in Montgomery many times during the summers. As she traveled South, she recalled Cincinnati as the end of freedom, referring to having to change cars and ride in the front of the train so Black folks would be closer to the coal and steam engine. She said, "You could not ride into Kentucky in integrated cars. It was like coming out of the free states and into the slave states. Being close to the engine was a sign that Black folks had to be put into their 'place'."

Gwen vividly remembers an incident that occurred while visiting Montgomery. She was 9 years old. Grandmother Bolden after church on Sundays would put the Patton siblings and their first cousin on the bus for their weekly bus ride to the end of the bus line and return. The children were told to ride on the back seat and look out the large window. "Nothing could be more fun than to see the scenery backwards," Grandmother told the children. One Sunday afternoon, Gwen decided that they should stop and get ice cream cones. Gwen was also thirsty. After purchasing a paper cup for 3¢, Gwen sat down on the soda fountain stool to drink her water. The soda fountain jerk rudely told Gwen to "get up off the stool" and called her a "pickaninny." Gwen responded by looking at the waitress straight in the eyes and by pouring the cup of water on the counter. When Gwen relayed the story to her grandmother, nothing was said, but immediately her grandmother hugged her and said, "You will never ride the bus again, and no one will ever insult you again. You are a princess."

During subsequent visits to Montgomery before her mother died, Gwen worked as a teacher in her paternal grandparents’ home which served as a "citizenship school" to teach prospective Black voters how to fill out the literacy test, the prerequisite barrier that always denied Black people their right to vote. Gwen became totally immersed in the civil/voting rights movement of which her relatives on both sides were ardent supporters for the quest for first-class citizenship as symbolized by the vote.

In Montgomery, Gwen graduated with high honors from George Washington Carver High School. Later, as president of the Student Government Association at Tuskegee Institute, she successfully made the historical and cultural connection between African-American and African students. She coined the phrase "scholar-activist" and urged students to work in the community for social, political and economic change. She was Direct Action Chair for the Tuskegee Institute Advancement League, and she, along with other students, planned strategies to desegregate Macon County, in which Tuskegee was the county seat, in all areas, especially in employment. Though her maternal grandmother’s rental home was the "freedom house" for Dr. MLK, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Gwen had greater affinity with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, her peer group, which was comprised of college students like her.

On the eve of the first "Black Power" conference in the country on February 9, 1967, held on Tuskegee Institute’s campus, Gwen was in a mysterious car accident while in route to Montgomery to take a friend to her maternal grandmother’s home as a stop-over before boarding the plane to Canada to avoid going to fight in Vietnam. Gwen had became an anti-draft counselor, and several of her relatives supported her efforts. The accident left Gwen with one leg shorter than the other, but she is able to ambulate with corrective shoes.

Gwen was one of youth founders of the Alabama Democratic Conference (1960), the Black political wing of the state Democratic Party, one of the founders for the Alabama New South Coalition (1986) and was one of nine Jesse Jackson presidential delegates elected in 1984. Earlier on Gwen founded the National Anti-War, Anti-Draft Union (NBAWADU) Against the War in Vietnam (1968) and the National Association of Black Students (1969). Because of her civil/voting rights activities, she was targeted by the FBI’s Counter-intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).

Never deterred, Gwen went on to make contributions in the educational world as a college professor throughout the country. Gwen was a co-host for Alabama Public Television program, "Harambee." She is a frequently interviewed about political development and analysis by national and international media (print, radio and television). Dr. Patton, was the Special Collections on Montgomery Pioneer Voting Rights Activists archivist at Trenholm State Technical College in Montgomery, Alabama. "It is a labor of love. Nothing is more precious than for us to preserve the papers and records of our forebearers who laid the groundwork for us to continue our struggle for self-respect and freedom. Continuing this legacy is the true essence of my life."

Most information taken from: Bailey, Richard. They Too Call Alabama Home: African American Profiles, 1800-1999. Montgomery, AL: Pyramid Pub., Inc., 1999. pp. 302-304.
Inventory of the Gwendolyn M. Patton Papers, 1955
Processed by: Dr. Gwendolyn M. Patton
Date Completed: January 2002

Table of Contents
Scope and Content Note Descriptive Summary Administrative Information
Index Biography Container List

Descriptive Summary
Title: Gwendolyn M. Patton Papers, 1955-
Collection Numbers: Barcode #s 402891, 402913, 403923-402929, 402931, 402934, 402934, 402936, 402948-402951, 402953, 402957, 402964, 402971, 402973-402975, 402980, 402983, 402986, 403003-403006, 403009, 403012-403014, 403020, 403026, 403029, 403034, 403039, 403046, 403055, 403062-403069, 403071-403077
Creator: Gwendolyn M. Patton
Size: 130 cu. ft.
Repository: H. Councill Trenholm State Community College

Administrative Information Provenance
Gwendolyn M. Patton

Scope and Content

The Gwendolyn M. Patton Papers specifically document her involvement in the Freedom Movement from age 9 (1952) to the present to include her Civil/Voting Rights Organizing for Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Alabama Democratic Conference, Tuskegee Institute Advancement League, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, Alabama New South Coalition, Southern Organizing Project, Project South, Working Group on Electoral Democracy, Fannie Lou Hamer Project, and related organizations; her student activism and tenure as Student Body President at Tuskegee (Institute) University, 1962-66; her founding of the National Black Anti-War, Anti-Draft Union (NBAWADU) Against the War in Vietnam and the National Association of Black Students (NABS); Correspondences, political and personal to include letters from female and male prisoners, 1967 to present; Newsletters and news articles; Phonographs, circa 1940-50s; Photographs; Paintings; Original Movement Leaflets and Buttons; Audio and Video Interviews of Montgomery’s Pioneer Voting Rights Activists.

  1. #403066 (ComStoBox 24)—Audio and Video Transcriptions; Student Research Papers on Patton; Freedom’s Children; Patton Family Photos; Patton Photos; Patton with Friends Photos; Sister Sandy; Family; Patton and Foster Family Reunions; Awards, Certificates, Fellowships; Inkster HS 40th Reunion; Patton’s Thoughts on “9/11"; Patton’s “struggles” at Trenholm; Personal.
  2. #403068 (ComStoBox 27)—Press Coverage of and Articles by Patton Trenholm Archives; the Arts; Plays; Business; Montgomery Bus Boycott; Civil Rights; Movement in General; Community; Freedom Riders, Tours and Caravans; Campaign Finance Reform and Government; Campaigns, Politics and Lawsuits; Education; Jesse Jackson, Southern Rainbow Education Project (SREP) and Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC); Women in Prison; Women; Religion; Slavery and Racism; Voting Rights; Press Coverages; Stationery.
  3. #403062 (ComStoBox 22)—Movement Women Perspectives-- Shirley Chisholm; Daughters of the Elks; Democratic National Convention-Women; Maya Angelou; Million Women March; Coalition of 100 Black Women; National Political Congress of Black Women; PUSH-Women;SCLC/WOMEN; League of Women Voters; Montgomery Women’s Federated Clubs; International Conference on Women–Beijing; Pro-Choice; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs; Teachers; Feminist Jews; Betty Shabazz; Georgette Norman; Black Women and Health-Cancer; Alabama Women Statistics; Tuskegee University-Women; Women in Sports, Education, Business, Politics, Military and Law; Fannie Lou Hamer; Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)-Women.
  4. #402975 (ComStoBox 6)—Organizations-- Project South Budgets, Minutes, Evaluations, Programs, Newsletters, Pamphlets and Posters, Time-lines, Popular Education Tools, Personnel and Staff Reports, Strategic Planning, Correspondences; Anatomy of a Movement-Montgomery Bus Boycott; Black Radical Tradition; Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
  5. #402936 (ComStoBox 9)—Kwame Toure (Stokley Carmichael); Bob Mants; Lowndes County Movement; Lowndes County Black Panther Party; Lowndes County Landfill Struggle; Black Panther Party; New Black Panther Party; Jamil Al Amin (H. Rap Brown).
  6. #403012 (ComStoBox 14)—Organizations–Federation of Southern Cooperatives–Black Farmers; Federation of Childcare Centers in Alabama (FOCAL); Freedom Tree Triumphs; King Federal Holiday; Freedom Riders and Re-enactments; NAACP; SCLC; PRIDE, Inc.; Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March Re-enactments; United Press International (UPI) Coverage of 1961-65 Movement; Southern Changes/Southern Regional Council; National Association of Black Students (NABS); National Anti-War, Anti-Draft Union Against the War in Vietnam (NBAWADU).
  7. #403004 ComStoBox 12)—Organizations--21st Century Youth Leadership Project–Rites of Passage, Board, Youth Essays on the Freedom Charter, Newsletters and Press Releases, Correspondences, Camps and Workshops, Photos and Songs, Education and Tracking; Jubilee; Black Heritage Tours; African-American Cultural Center; Southern Rainbow Education Project (SREP); Jesse Jackson Campaign, 1984 & 1988.
  8. #403006 (ComStoBox 13)—Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) Convention Souvenir Booklets (1986-2000); OIC Anniversary Souvenir Booklet, 1968-1998; Southern Christian Leadership Conference Souvenir Booklets, 1978, 1990 and 1995.
  9. #403003 (ComStoBox 11)—Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC)- Correspondences, Constitution, Resolutions, Programs, Platform, Officers, Board Minutes and Budgets, News Articles, Chapters, Memberships, Proposals, Montgomery Chapter Candidate Surveys, Voter Registration and Get-Out-The-Vote Strategies, Screenings and Endorsements; Political Action Committee; Bumper Stickers, Flyers and Buttons, Newsletters, Internal Judicial Proceedings and FBI Harassment, Historian; Anti-Robert Bork to U.S. Supreme Court Movement; John England; Michael Figures.
  10. #405932 (ComStoBox 28)—Correspondences, 1992-2004.
  11. #402986 (DB 38)—Movement Post Cards from Friends.
  12. #402964 (DB 33)—Autographed Books from Robert Williams; Montgomery Capital City Corners; Dooky Chase Cook Book; Daufuskie Island Cook Book.
  13. #402913 (DB 25)—Southern Grassroots Organizers Negatives.
  14. #402930 (DB 22)—Photo Albums of Dakar, Senegal; Beijing, China; Kwame Ture Tribute and Memorial.
  15. #403013 (ComStoBox 15)—Campaign Finance Reform—Fannie Lou Hamer Project, Speeches and Correspondences, Publications and News Articles, Transparencies and Speeches, Public Campaign, Democracy South, Center for Responsive Politics, Working Group on Electoral Democracy, Brochures, Proposals, Politicians and Money, Legislation, Lobbying, Legal Strategies, Lawsuit, Fannie Lou Hamer Platform.
  16. #403014 (ComStoBox 16)—Conferences and Speeches--- Environmental Movement; Southern Organizing Committee (SOC); Southern Network of African-American Grassroots Organizers; The Housing Movement; Saving Family Farms; Racism-Black and White Relations; Labor and Health; Get-out-the-Vote and Electoral Strategies; Voting Irregularities; Planning Techniques and Evaluations; Money Wise and Self-Evaluations; Parliamentary Procedures.
  17. #403055 (DB 48)—Tuskegee Institute Student Newspapers, The Campus Digest, 1965-1966, covering Malcolm X to Campus Protest to the Murder of Sammy Younge, Jr and the aftermath; Tuskegee Institute Community Education Program (TICEP) Journal; Gwen Patton Student Body Presidency; Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March; Sammy Younge, Jr. and the Aftermath; Dormitory Fire; Scholarships and Alum- ni; City of Tuskegee; Syphilis Case; Sheriff Lucius Amerson; Tuskegee Airmen.
  18. #403034 (DB 25)—College and Universities—Alabama State University and Archives–Publications, Students and Programs, Lawsuits and Property Claims, Faculty and Board of Trustees; Role of Black Colleges in Alabama; Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); Alabama A&M University; Fisk University; Howard University; Oakwood College; Two-Year Colleges; Tuskegee University–Bio-Ethics Program, Board of Trustees, Centennial, Capital Campaigns; Lnier High School; Booker T. Washington High School, Loveless School, Carver High School.
  19. #403067 (DB 51)—National Historic Voting Rights Trail
  20. #403131 (ComStoBox 29)—Voyages and Travels–Central America; China (Artifacts); Chile and Cuba; East Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Odinga Oginga; Essays on Africa; Europe; Hawaii; Hong Kong and Taiwan; Thailand; India; Burma; Egypt; Japan; Middle East; New Zealand; North Africa; Safaris; Russia; Senegal; South Africa; South America; United States of America; Pass Ports. Slides were taken of the voyages/travels.
  21. #403064 ( ComStoBox 23)—Political Papers—Patton’s Political Campaigns and Speeches; Patton’s Independent Political Campaign for U.S. Senate; Jesse Jackson Delegate, 1984; Political Attacks; The Democrat Donkey as Mascot; Gov.Don Siegelman; Republicans; John Kerry; LK, Jr., John Lewis and Patton Speeches; Governor George C. Wallace; President Bill Clinton; Rainbow Coalition Correspondences; Political Correspondences.
  22. #403069 (Com StoBox 25)— International Political Movements and Correspondences----Nairobi, Kenya; Africa Policies; Latin American Policies; Mexico-NAFTA; Latin American Women; Anti-Apartheid Movement; Southern and South Africa; Haiti; International and National Post Card/Cards Correspondences.
  23. #403065 (ComStoBox 24)—Correspondences with Prisoners Male Prisoners; Women Prisoners and Their Children; Creative Learning Center for Children Whose Mothers Are Incarcerated; Restoration of Voting Rights for Ex-Felons.
  24. #403082 (ComStoBox 26)—Legal Briefs—Gwendolyn M. Patton vs. Secretary of State (Billy Joe Camp) re: Independent Candidate Ballot Access; Gwendolyn M. Patton vs Alabama State University re: Handicapped Access; Gwendolyn M. Patton vs Alabama State University re: Firing and Retaliation.
  25. #402928 (DB 10)—Legal Briefs—Independent Candidate Ballot Access; Southern Region of the National Rainbow Coalition (Patton as one of the Plaintiffs) Complaint before the Federal Communications Commission re: radio licenses and denial thereof; US House of Representatives (Patton as one of the Plaintiffs) vs US Department of Commerce re: Discrimination in Census-Taking.; Attorney Arthur Kinoy.
  26. #402974(ComStoBox 7)—Black Legislators and Political Affairs —Earl Hilliard, Alvin Holmes, John Knight, Jr., Hersheil Mann, Thad McClammy, Quinton Ross; Voting, Restoration of Voting Rights for Ex-Felons.
  27. #403043 (DB 42)—Alabama State University Experiences—Tenure and Employment Concerns, Academic Advising Proposal.
  28. #404521 (Poster Box 6)—Original Movement Posters, Bumper Stickers, Fans and Protest Signs from USA, China and Chile; Rare Books—What Do People of Africa Want? by Mrs. Paul Robeson, 1945, The Journal of Negro History edited by Carter G. Woodson, 1923, News Week Magazine, 1933, The Struggle for American Freedom by Herbert M. Morais, 1944, The Great Rebellion: A History of the Civil War in the US by J. T. Headley, 1866.
  29. #403084 (News Paper Box 5)—News Articles on Black Culture, Politics and Leaders,1997-2002.
  30. #402980 (ComStoBox 8)—Framed Paintings by Students of Dr. George Washington Carver, 1899-1930s.
  31. #403039 (Artifact Box 12)—Framed, Color Photographs by Kleina.
  32. #402923 (Phono Box 1)—78 Records, 1940-50s circa, Rhythm and Blues, Gospel, Jazz and Pop, Some Artists are the Ink Spots, Johnny Ace, Sarah Vaughn.
  33. #402924 (Phono Box 2)—See above.
  34. #403073 (Artifact Box 13)—Isaac Scott Hathaway Molds of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver Liberty Coins.
  35. #403071 (Artifact Box 14)—Isaac Scott Hathaway Bust Molds of Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.
  36. #402953 (Audio Cassette Box 1)—Jamil Al Amin (H. Rap Brown), Crises of the Black Intellectual, Freedom Riders, Racism, Dorothy Frazier, Timonthy Mays, James Wilson, Idessa Redden, Hagalyn Seay Wilson, Gwen Patton, Voting Rights March, Miller Walker Trials, Tavis Smiley Show, Anthony Molina, Tenant Organizing Meeting, Rosa Parks Radio Programs, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Cuba Interview, Alvin Holmes, Voting Rights Panel, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “From Pharoahs to Ghettos,” Hip Hop Movement Songs, Dakar (West Africa), Nairobi (East Africa), South Africa, Campaign Finance Reform, Environment.
  37. #404483 (Audio Cassette Box 2)—Gwen Patton on Women, Emancipation Proclamation, Jesse Jackson, NAFTA, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), South Africa, “Like It Is,” Doctoral Meeting, Car Accident, Rufus A. Lewis, Zecozy Williams; Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Freedom Singers, Guyot, Victoria Gray-Adams, Judy Richardson, Ed King, Johnny Wall, Bob Moses, Owen Brooks, Dorie Ladner, Ruth Howard, Dave Dennis, Matt Jones; “A Race to Freedom” Music Track, National Political Congress of Black Women, Green Party, “Liberation from Shame,” Project South.
  38. #404519 (Audio Cassette Box 3)—Montgomery Friends of the Historic Voting Rights Trail Luncheon, Horseshow Bend, 1968 Berkeley Conference on Women with Gwen Patton and Cicely Tyson, Rainbow Coalition, National Trust for Preservation, 78s Records, Non-traditional Job Training for Women, Nina Beauchamp Retirement.
  39. #402925 (DB 7)—Movement Bios---Muhammad Ali to Rev. Robert Graetz/
  40. #403063 (DB Supplement)—Movement Bios---Mrs. Grayson’s Candy Kitchen to Dr. E.D. Nixon.
  41. #402926 (DB 8)—Movement Bios---Obituaries to Billy Jean Young.
  42. #402971 ( DB 34)—Rosa Parks.
  43. #403002 (DB 35)—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  44. #402929 (DB 20)—Blacks in History---Civil Rights Murders Outside Alabama; Montgomery Bombings, Civil Rights Murders in Alabama, Black/White Relations, Black Confederate Soldiers, Blacks and Military, Blacks and the Korean War, Blacks in Revolutionary War, Black Union Soldiers, Civil War, Confederate Flag, Ku Klux Klan, History of Black History Month---Carter G. Woodson.
  45. #403026 (ComStoBox 21)—Civil/Voting Rights Pioneers---Famous Alabamians in All Fields, African-American Arts Alliance, Builders-Inventors, Businesses, Churches and Preachers, Federal Employees—Postal Workers, Educators and Schools, Hospitals and Doctors, Journalists and Publishers, Judges and Lawyers, Law Enforcement, Marriages, Politicians, Radio and Television, Science and Astronauts, Shirt Factory and Unions, Sports and Athletes, Theatre and Arts, Montgomery Bus Boycott Pioneers, Montgomery Bus Boycott—Women, Civil Rights Activists.
  46. #402927 (DB 9)—Black Life---Armistad, Emancipation Proclamation, African Burial Ground-Cemeteries, Slavery and Reparations, Slavery and Black Life, Underground Railroad, Lynchings, Greene County, Selma—Rev. L.L. Anderson, Calhoun School Historical Museum (Lowndes County), Mississippi, Alabama, Marion County.
  47. #402931 (Drop Fron Box 3)—Montgomery Advertiser Articles on 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March, February-April, 1965; Highlander Photos (Facsimiles) of the March; FBI Surveillance of March (on CD).

Gwen Patton Collection: Index

  • 21st Century Youth Leadership Development Program
  • Accra, Ghana
  • Al-Amin, Jamil (H. Rap Brown)
  • Alabama New South Coalition
  • Alabama State University
  • Angelou, Maya
  • Anti-Apartheid Movement (South Africa)
  • Bellamy, Faye
  • Bennett, Jim (AL Secretary of State)
  • Bond, Julian
  • Bonifaz, John (Esq.)
  • Booker T. Washington High School
  • Braden, Anne
  • Campaign Finance Reform Movement
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Chisholm, Shirley
  • Coalition of 100 Black Women
  • Colvin, Claudette
  • Conley, Charles (Esq.)
  • Creative Learning Center for Children Whose Mothers’ Are Incarcerated
  • Dakar, Senegal
  • Dallas County (Selma)
  • Davis, Angela
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday
  • Elected Officials in Montgomery and in Washington, D.C.
  • Emancipation Proclamation Observances
  • Federation of Southern Cooperatives
  • Figures, Michael
  • Foster-McCall Family
  • Freedom Riders
  • George Washington Carver High School
  • Greene County (Eutaw)
  • Gwendolyn M. Patton
  • Gwendolyn M. Patton Papers
  • H. Councill Trenholm State Community College Archives
  • Holseart, Faith
  • Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church
  • Independent Politics
  • Jackson, Jesse Sr.
  • Kinoy, Arthur (Esq.)
  • Klu Klux Klan
  • Loveless High School
  • Lowndes County Black Panther Party
  • Manning, Marable
  • Mants, Bob
  • Montgomery Federated Club of Women
  • Montgomery Pioneers in All Professions
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • National Black Anti-War, Anti-Draft Union (NBAWADU)
  • National Political Congress of Black Women
  • National Rainbow Coalition
  • National Association of Black Students
  • National Park Service
  • Nwangaza, Efia
  • Parks, Rosa
  • Patton Family
  • Patton, Jeanetta Bolden
  • Patton, C. Robert Sr.
  • Project South Institute to Eliminate Poverty and Genocide
  • Russell, Carlos
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Selma-to-Montgomery Historic Voting Rights Trail
  • SISTERS, (Black Women and Cancer)
  • Southern Rainbow Education Project
  • Southern Organizing Committee for Social/Economic/Environmental Justice
  • Southern Grassroots Organizers
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Trenholm State Community College
  • Ture, Kwame (Stokley Carmichael)
  • Tuskegee Institute’s Campus Digest
  • Tuskegee (Institute) University
  • Voting Rights Pioneers in Montgomery
  • Wallace, George (AL Governor during segregation, "Jim Crow," period
  • Younge, Sammy Jr.

History of

For half a century, thousands of students have charted their path to success at Trenholm State Community College. From the 1960s to today, we have been part of the fabric of Montgomery and the River Region, growing to include diverse programs of study, multiple campuses, and online learning. Now, we celebrate the present and move forward with a renewed dedication to our community and the success of our students. We invite you to join us.

Contact Trenholm State

1-866-753-4544 334-420-4200

Trenholm Campus:
1225 Air Base Blvd
Montgomery, Alabama 36108
Directions »
Mailing Address:
Post Office Box 10048
Montgomery, Alabama 36108