NashvillePost.com's annual St. Crispin's Day political celebration-slash-roast was Wednesday night at Cabana.
Here are Ken Whitehouse's remarks on this year's inductee into the Order of St. Crispin as prepared for delivery:
Dr. Rip Patton, a native of Nashville, TN, received his education foundation in the city school system. After graduating from Pearl High School, where he was a drummer in the band, he entered Tennessee A & I State University, majoring in Music Education.
It was at TSU that Dr. Patton joined an organization that literally changed his well-organized life. In addition to becoming a member of the Marching 100 and the jazz bands, he joined the Student Central Committee of the Nashville Christian Leadership Council. This involvement led to Civil Rights workshops, sit-ins at lunch counters, pickets at local stores, demonstrations, arrests and eventually becoming a 1961 Freedom Rider. On May 24, 1961, he traveled to Montgomery AL, where he boarded one of the first buses to Jackson, MS. There the 21 year old activist was arrested and held in the Hines County Jail before being transferred to Parchman Maximum Security Prison. He was imprisoned for a total of 62 days. Following his return to Tennessee, Dr. Patton again participated in local civil rights activities, such as picketing area stores. He was soon invited to New York City where he worked at the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) from 1961 thru 1962. Along this journey, there was one element that was consistently forged and reinforced - an undying, relentless spirit, and a life committed to securing civil rights for all.
Vocationally, Dr. Patton has been a professional musician, playing with a symphony orchestra and with such jazz greats as Lou Rawls, Les McCann, Kossie Gardner and Roy Ayers. His most recent position was as a professional long haul driver, earning distinction as a Divisional and Regional Driving Champion, District Driver Instructor, Captain of the America's Road Team, and a member of the Federal Highway Advisory Committee for eight years. Dr. Patton is now retired.
Patton is a member of Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church and co-president of the Pearl-Cameron Community Choir. He is the percussionist for several local groups, including New Spirit and Friends and 'Just Us' a choral group committed to the preservation of Negro spirituals. He continues to be a passionate storyteller of actual events that are part of the history of civil rights in the United States. Since 2007, Dr. Patton has annually taught a civil rights history class at Stetson School of Law in Gulfport, Florida. He also facilitates a tour of southern historical civil rights cities for these students, along with the history students of renowned author Raymond Arsenault of South Florida University. In 2008, Rip Patton and thirteen other Freedom Riders were honored by Tennessee State University and received the Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Dr. Patton has one son, Michael A. Patton, a USC electrical engineering graduate who resides in St. George, Bermuda.