SC Sen. Kay Patterson was born in Darlington County January 11, 1931, the son of James and Leila Patterson, and was reared in Darlington and Sumter Counties by his grandmothers, Mrs. Meta B. Patterson and Mrs. Emma Joseph. He graduated from Lincoln High in Sumter, South Carolina, in 1949. Senator Patterson attended Claflin College1949-1951. After he served in the U. S. Marine Corps from 1951 to 1953 as buck-sergeant, he completed requirements for the baccalaureate degree in Social Sciences at Allen University in 1956. He pursued additional education at Temple University and attended an NDEA Institute in Black History at Atlanta University in 1963. He received the Masters of Education Degree from South Carolina State College in 1971.
Senator Patterson taught for fourteen years at W. A. Perry Middle School, C. A. Johnson Preparatory Academy, and Benedict College, and served for 16 years as a UniServ Representative for the South Carolina Education Association, from which he retired in June 1986. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church where he has served as Senior Warden of the Vestry, Secretary and Treasurer of the Vestry.
Senator Patterson is active in many civic and community organizations which include the North Columbia Civic Club and life membership in the NAACP. While a student at Claflin College (1949-1951), he joined the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Edisto Lodge No. 39 Prince-Hall Masons. Currently, he serves as a Commissioner on the Education Commission of the States, is a member of the State Reorganization Commission, and a former member of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). In January 1983, he was elected by the S. C. House Education Committee to serve on the University of South Carolina Trustee Board, the first Black to serve on the Board since Reconstruction. Senator Patterson has been an outspoken legislator championing the cause of the poor and downtrodden. He served for 11 years in the S. C. House of Representatives (1974-1985) and was elected to the Senate in 1985. In 1990, he served as Chairman of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.
As an outspoken and fiery speaker in his practice of politics, he has been a moving force in promoting and effectuating change in the state of South Carolina. He is a member of the S. C. Senate from Richland County District #19, serving on the following committees: Banking & Insurance, Corrections & Penology, Education, Finance, and Transportation. Senator Patterson also served as Commissioner for the South Carolina Department of Highways & Public Transportation. Senator Patterson currently serves as the Chairman, Richland County Legislative Delegation.
He is married to Jean James of Pinewood, South Carolina, has two children — Eric and Pamela, and a grandson Eric, Jr., and granddaughters, Ashley and Courtland.