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Dr. Gwendolyn M. Patton died suddenly on May 11, 2017 in Montgomery, Alabama.
She was the first female President of the Tuskegee Institute student body in 1965 and she used her power to build a student movement. She was the Direct Action Chair for the Tuskegee Institute Advancement League (SNCC affiliate) in the mid-1960’s.
Her memoir is due to be published soon.
Gwen was among the founding members of the National Rainbow Coalition and the Southern Rainbow Education Project.
She was a youth founding member of the (Black) Alabama Democratic Conference in 1960, an organization dedicated to getting Black people registered as voters. She also became a youth organizer in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and SCLC.
As a student at Tuskegee University, she served as the first female student government association president. As a SNCC organizer, she was one of the founders of its Women's Commission and served as the first commission chair. She founded the National Anti-War, Anti-Draft Union and the National Association of Black Students. Based on Freedom of Information files, Gwen was under surveillance and classified under active investigation by the FBI and the CIA.
Dr. Patton earned her bachelor's degree in English and history at Tuskegee, where she was told by Alabama state officials that she would never get a job in Alabama because of her movement activities. She earned her master's in history and the art of teaching from Antioch College, and her doctorate in political history and higher education administration from Union Graduate School.
Her movement activities were interspersed with teaching at several colleges in the East and Southeast. Gwen was born 1943 in Michigan and moved to Montgomery, Alabama at age 16 to live with her grandmother.  After graduate school, she returned to Montgomery in 1977 and continued her movement activities while teaching at local universities and colleges.
Dr. Patton most recently worked as an archivist for H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College, which houses special collections of Pioneers of the Voting Rights Movement. She was in great demand, locally, nationally and internationally, as a speaker and lecturer on the civil/voting rights movement. Dr. Patton was Montgomery Coordinator for the National Historic Voting Rights Trail and served on its National Advisory Council.
For more about Dr. Gwen Patton, see:

Mission Statement

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project (SLP) was begun to preserve and extend SNCC's legacy. Although SNCC the organization no longer exists, we believe that its legacy continues and needs to be brought forward in ways that continue the struggle for freedom, justice and liberty. To that end, the SLP is taking a multi-level approach: archiving SNCC documents digitally to make them easily available for use;  encouraging and assisting in the development of books and other media by SNCC veterans with the idea of having the stories and interpretation of SNCC's work told by its veterans; developing with colleges and universities a program of SNCC visiting professors and scholars who would in formal and informal ways interact with young people on campuses and take advantage of campus resources to begin telling the story as it should be told; and finally anchored by the Algebra Project and Young Peoples Project pursue one of the still great unfulfilled needs of the Freedom Movement: Quality Public Education as a Constitutional Right. Built into our efforts is the determination to see that our legacy, the legacy of the freedom struggle, is passed from our generation to future generations. A Luta Continua!

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