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Spitzer’s Successor Is NY’s First Black Governor

Eliot Spitzer, Lt. Governor David A. Paterson will become New York’s first African-American governor.

He is only the third African-American to become a governor in the U.S. since Reconstruction and is the first legally blind governor in U.S. history.

Paterson will officially take over as governor on Monday.

Paterson, 53 years old, was named lieutenant governor in November 2006. He has been legally blind since childhood, with only partial sight in his right eye.

He was born in Brooklyn to Portia and Basil Paterson. His father was the first non-white secretary of state of New York and the first African-American vice chair of the national Democratic Party.

Paterson earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Columbia University, graduating in 1977, and completed his law degree at Hofstra Law School in 1982.

Paterson entered public life in 1985 when he began representing Harlem in the New York State Senate, according to the New York governor’s Web site. In 2002, he became the body’s minority leader, the first non-white legislative leader in New York state history.

In 2004, Paterson became the first legally blind person to address the Democratic National Convention, the same convention that brought Barack Obama to the national spotlight when he delivered the keynote address.

Paterson is an adjunct professor at Columbia’s School for International and Public Affairs. He’s also a member of the American Foundation for the Blind, serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee and is a board member of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

He ran the New York City Marathon in 1999 and is a member of the board of the Achilles Track Club.

He lives in Harlem with his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, and their two children.