This Monday at the Alumni Center, the University of Connecticut in collaboration with Be Good or Be Gone Media presented “Pushing Boundaries: UConn’s First NBA Player,” a film documenting the life of athlete and music executive Worthy Patterson. This historical narrative chronicles Patterson’s achievements and life as a Black person, overcoming the discrimination and racism before, during and after the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, he passed away before the completion of the documentary in December of 2022, but his legacy lives on.
Born in 1931 in an almost entirely white suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, Patterson was a standout Greenwich High School student and athlete in the 1940s and went on to star for the UConn Huskies basketball team from 1951-54. Patterson was the 1954 team captain, and he was inducted into the Huskies of Honor in 2012. Out of the 38 UConn basketball players in the NBA, Patterson was the first, suiting up for the 1957 St. Louis Hawks. Following his basketball career, Patterson found success in the recording industry as one of the first Black record executives for RCA and Warner Brothers.
“I was never uncomfortable at UConn, I was right in the middle of it. Sometimes, I didn’t even remember I was a minority. I just did my thing.” This quote by Patterson was the backbone of his rise to the top as he served his country and his community. The presentation was joined by his wife Queen Patterson and their son Worthy Patterson III. The two were kind enough to field questions from the audience as they discussed the legacy of Patterson and their own personal experiences living through the Jim Crow era.
Directed and produced by award-winning journalist Ronnie Forchheimer, the documentary aired not only on UConn grounds but also on CPTV earlier this month. Starting from a successful screening at the Greenwhich Historical Society, the Alumni Center was the last stop on the tour. The Digitial Media and Design team responsible for the projected worked tirelessly to ensure that the roll out went as smoothly as possible. With a new website, social media page and posters, the team worked closely with Forchheimer and other organizations to help get the word out about the documentary.
Caleb Eastman, an eighth-semester DMD major was pretty excited about his group’s success. “It’s really cool to see the final project that we’ve been working on so long. We did a lot of work to get the documentary out there and it was really cool to get to work with Mike and the Atheletic department,” he said.
Even if you missed any of the showings, the documentary is available to view on YouTube: Pushing Boundaries: UConn’s First NBA Player, Worthy Patterson