Paterson emphasizes college degrees

New York’s Lieutenant Gov. James Paterson says, at Yale, black students are lucky.

During a rally held at the Black Solidarity Conference this weekend, Paterson noted many black students are denied the same opportunities as their white peers.

“Those of us who achieve success are more lucky than we are good,” he said to a crowd of nearly 400 students in Commons on Saturday.

In an interview with the News, Paterson expounded upon this idea, saying education is essential to social mobility. “The presence of education and a college degree can take a person from the lowest rung of society to the highest rung,” he explained.

“The only other thing that can take you there is a good jump shot,” he said jokingly.

Paterson, the second most powerful government official in New York, was the key speaker in a political rally held at the conference, which drew over 400 students from 53 universities to Yale this weekend. Should Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 win the presidential election, many consider Paterson, a Democrat, to be her likely replacement in the Senate.

In his remarks, Paterson praised the conference for reminding students of the work of earlier Americans, who fought for economic, political and social justice.

He added that the nomination campaign of Barack Obama has lead to a mentality change among young Americans.

“Young African American students think they can be president. Young white students think they can vote for a black president,” he told the News.

Paterson said students have been key in affecting positive change for decades, pointing to student-led movements during the Vietnam War and the South African aparthied.

Still, he said, something is unique about the current generation of American students.

“This is the first generation that has shown a tendency toward colorblindness in our society,” he said in the interview. “Maybe the association and interaction between different people has finally paid off in our society.”

In his remarks, Patterson said racial equality has not yet been achieved in the United States.

He said black Ivy League graduates with credentials comparable to white classmates make about four-fifths the same income.

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