The Measure of A Man

One Hundred Black Men
Photo by Leonard McKenzie
Photo by Leonard Robinson

The community Basil Paterson loved and served — and who loved him in return, came together recently at a memorial service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Upper Manhattan and literally raised the roof of the famous church, during a poignant celebration of a life well lived.

Set in motion with the well-known hymn, “Blessed Assurance” led by the magnificent church choir; with the pipes of the great organ at full blast, yet almost stifled by the voices of mass congregation; the stability of the roof of the great church’s literally seemingly under threat.

Goose bumps were in high order during the magnanimous musical rendition, and remained at large throughout the ceremony, as speaker after speaker who knew Basil Patterson — some with tears slipping down their cheeks, spoke of this giant-of-a- man, yet humble, who touched the lives of many.

From the get-go, an evening of tributes poured from the lips of all who knew Mr. Paterson; some very well, others not so well, as they heaped mountains of praise on the former lieutenant governor.

The Venerable Dr. James Forbes officiated at the service.

Read some of the tributes.

The One Hundred Black Men fraternity ……..

“Basil Patterson’s was a life well lived.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo:

“A lawyer’s lawyer.”

“A mediator’s mediator.”

“Basil Paterson was marching in Memphis because he believed that was what Dr. King would have wanted.”“We’re all the better for it.”

Mayor Bill DeBlasio:

“Praised the relationship with David Dinkins, for 1199 and the Labor Movement.

His “signature calm amidst the stormi

“He (taught us all) how to be leaders.”

“Like a leader, he went after the flock and led from behind.”

Former Mayor David Dinkins:

Spoke of Basil Batterson’s signature “calm amidst the storm.”

There was “a softer genius behind “his outward. countenance. He was “never faunted by power.”

“I’m reminded of Maya Angelou’s poem: “When great trees fall.”

“We all can be and are better because he existed.”

Eric Schneiderman:

“He was inctredibly generous with his time.”

Charles Rangel:

“I’m pleased that Basil came into my life.”

“I didn’t know that he was part of the ‘Bulay,’”

“What we can do to be more like Basil is to fight for teachers, fight for children, for people who are sick” …

“I shared a part of the wonderful friendship of Basil Patterson.”

David Dinkins:

[Sobbing]: “The Gang of Four is no more.”

I cannot remember anything that has hit me as hard as losing Basil.

His “unparalleled dedication to helping to serve the people of this city.”

“We all have the power to live our lives with … and that’s what Basil did.”

“Death is not the end, but the opening of a door that leads to eternal life.

We must not lose sight of where he came from and where hs’s going.

Serving others is the rent we pay for living here on earth.”

“Basil has paid in full.”

Keith Wright:

“He was a friend to his enemies.

Never once did Baail get agitated by anyone.

His legacy is with his grandchildren.”

Inez E. Dickens

“Today the Village of Harlem is celebrating the memory of its son.”

“I knew Basil since age 9.”

“ I was blessed to know this man of distinction.”

“ He broke down barriers and gave hope to Black people in this country.”

“ He was a soft-spoken… but strong labor leader. A fierce litigator…

“ No man succeeds without a good woman.”

“ The next gang of four would come from the Patterson family.

“ People may fight what you said … what you did, but they won’t forget how you make them feel.”

“ He was “a friend of age and a guide of youth.”

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