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A lifelong governmental and political figure, David Paterson was the first African American governor of New York state.
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In 1985, he worked for David Dinkins' successful campaign for Manhattan borough president. Later that year, Paterson won his own campaign for State Senate after the senatorial incumbent, Leon Bogues, died. He was elected to represent Harlem at the age of 31,
becoming the youngest state senator in New York's history.
Paterson made headlines in the mid '90s for his work to preserve an African-American burial ground discovered on the excavation site for a new federal building in New York City. He not only secured federal funding for the preservation project, but he also formed a team to monitor the work and protect the remains found on the site. The senator saved more than 90 skeletal remains in the 16th-century cemetery.
In 2003, he became the minority leader of the New York State Senate, and the first African-American legislative leader in New York's history. He made history again the next year, when he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention. In 2007, he became New York's first African-American lieutenant governor.
A year later, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer became embroiled in a national prostitution scandal. After Spitzer's resignation in March of 2008, Paterson filled the former governor's position. The appointment made Paterson New York's first African-American governor.
Paterson currently serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee and as a board member of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. In addition to his political work, the governor is an outspoken advocate for the American Foundation for the Blind, and an avid runner. Paterson completed the New York City Marathon on November 7, 1999, and currently serves as a Member of the Board of the Achilles Track Club.
Paterson and his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, live in New York City. They have two children.
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After the Civil War, many of the country's best and brightest black advocates, artists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals moved to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Thanks largely to the efforts of these residents, Harlem became both the cradle of a cultural revolution and the heart of the civil rights movement. Meet some of the many people who gave—and continue to give—this neighborhood a voice, simply by calling it home.
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