Remember Albert Patterson?
Or his son John?
What about the woman who stood beside both men?
Who was she?
As it turns out, Agnes Patterson was a woman who could teach us a thing or two.
She possessed wisdom and courage.
Her life was one of quiet instruction and of faithfulness and dignity.
“We have good people in this town. And they were under bondage, and they had to have freedom. It took something terrible to get people to wake up.”
Those words came after her husband's murder - her insight born of tragedy.
Remember that Albert, Alabama's Attorney General nominee, dared to clean up corruption in the crime-ridden 1950s-era Phenix City, Alabama.
She'd been a supportive political wife during his campaign, quite aware of her husband's fight.
But that fight ended with Albert's murder. And Agnes was a widow already acquainted with sorrow.
She'd lost two young children. Yet, four sons remained.
As it turned out, one son, John Patterson, became Attorney General and later the 44th governor of Alabama.
John wasn't interested in politics. But he realized that he was the one who should finish the job his father had started.
So, when John filed papers to stand for Attorney General, there was Agnes.
Right by his side.
Remember: Her husband, his father, had been killed.
And there they were.
Grieved yet standing.
Can you imagine how they suffered?
How must Agnes have suffered?
Agnes. The one not much is known about, but the one whose bravery was on full display.
In the documentary, In the Wake of Assassins, Agnes was asked where she got her mettle. She said, "I got the courage from being in this fight so long. And we had friends doing their best to make the town a clean place to live.
“Of course, I have sons; I wanted them to have a chance."
She said back in 1954, "the good people of America could take a lesson from this. But always be on the alert. Go to the polls and vote. Do everything they can to make a good America."
That's wisdom we could use today.
But this isn't about voting or our recent elections.
This is about Agnes - the silent partner. The suffering widow. An accomplished woman in her own right. A school teacher who furthered her education each summer alongside her husband. The woman who was in the thick of it.
The one who never brought attention to herself and the one whose example is a template for us all.
The one who said she got her courage from being in the fight - not on the sidelines.
Who was she?
A woman of purpose.
Apathy was likely not a part of her vocabulary.
But it easily could have been.
I wonder: How did she stand any of this?
Did her strength come from that place of suffering?
Where deep waters have a way of instructing the soul?
Did it come from being a wartime bride?
When nothing was promised? And when the worst was just around the corner?
Who was Agnes?
She is the type of woman we need right now.
A woman like you.
Accomplished in your own right.
A woman who's been through some things.
But who has so much to give.
Our world is slipping into the abyss.
Like the Phenix City of old.
And where are we?
Are we willing to be like Agnes?
To face the worst and carry on?
To stay in the fight?
Because we have kids, and we want to give them a chance?
Because we care about our community?
Will you push back against the profound foolishness that runs rampant today?
Will you fight to cut off corruption? Or to shut down voter fraud?
Will you fight for our kids' education? And for their teachers?
Will you fight for our babies? And for their right to life? And for their mothers and fathers who need our help?
Will you fight to cut off human trafficking? And drug trafficking, too?
Women, stay in it.
It's what Agnes did. Yes. Under different circumstances.
But, with her spirit and wisdom, it's what we can do too.
Stand tall. Carry on with courage, with dignity and faithfulness.
That's who she was.
And that's who we can be, too.
Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House District 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.
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