Mignette Patrick Dorsey


Charles Patrick

A half-inch indentation in his chin reminded Charles Patrick of the cost of courage. At 91, he could still recall the day an argument with a white woman over a parking space in downtown Birmingham, Alabama led to a 1954 beating that nearly killed him. Yet there was no bitterness, no malice, no desire for vengeance. A strange blend of humility and bravado led to the unthinkable—publicly accusing white police officers of beating him in a crowded courtroom—a first. The act elicited a rare unity among black and white citizens, politicians, and the press. The officers were ultimately fired, the charges against Patrick, dropped.

Patrick was one of many unsung African Americans who resisted oppressive powers prior to the start of the civil rights movement. Later, he would enjoy attending book signings celebrating his life. The pinnacle was receiving the Open Door Award in 2011 from the April 4th Foundation, an award given to those who have made extraordinary contributions in the furtherance of civil rights.

Patrick died in Houston, Texas on Oct. 22, 2014 at the age of 96. In her eulogy, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said, ”I am honored to salute Deacon Charles Patrick. Let me say on behalf of an enormously grateful nation, and the President of the United States of America, that we will always know that in life’s way, an earthly way-maker by the name of Deacon Charles Patrick walked this earth.”

Charles Patrick is interred at the Houston National Cemetery.

Published Writing Award

Lone Star College System

Calvin Smith Book Award
Mignette Y. Patrick Dorsey

Mignette Y. Patrick Dorsey

As a child, Mignette Yvonne Patrick Dorsey listened to her mother read old newspaper clippings touting her father’s courageous stand prior to the start of the civil rights movement. The world of journalism later beckoned. She began researching Speak Truth to Power, The Story of Charles Patrick, a Civil Rights Pioneer after being challenged by two editors at the now-defunct Houston Post.

The Los Angeles, California native is the youngest child of Charles and Rutha Patrick. An award-winning print journalist, she has worked as a city of Houston spokesperson, a journalism educator, and currently a Professor of English at a community college. Dorsey, who recently earned a doctorate degree, enjoys exercising and fishing with her husband.

Book Cover of Speak Truth to Power by Mignette Y. Patrick Dorsey

“Dorsey has written a story that needs to be told”

—Marlene H. Rikard, Samford University