Eva Paterson

The Rehnquist Supreme Court Took Us Back 40 Years in Civil Rights

Eva Jefferson Paterson 


Is the president and founder of the Equal Justice Society, a national legal organization focused on restoring Constitutional safeguards against discrimination.


Early Life and Education


Eva Paterson grew up in a military family in France, England and southern Illinois. In high school, she traveled the state giving Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.” She completed her undergraduate studies at Northwestern University, where she was the school's first African American student government president.

As a 20-year-old student leader at a time of turmoil, Paterson was catapulted into the national spotlight when she debated then Vice President Spiro Agnew on live television. Dubbed the “peaceful warrior” for fostering non-violent protest in the aftermath of the 1970 shooting of student demonstrators at Kent State University, she was named one of Mademoiselle’s “Ten Young Women of the Year,” featured on the covers of Ebony and Jet, and called to testify before Congress.

Paterson graduated from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1975.



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