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Idaho Falls man describes growing up Black in the Gem State

In 1980, Dennis Patterson started his first professional role at the Idaho National Laboratory. Having grown up in Idaho Falls, he had worked at INL in the summers during college as a laborer. Although he was hired after the establishment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1965, Patterson says he faced discrimination as a Black and Native American man in a mostly white facility.

However, his upbringing prepared him to rise above these challenges, as catalogued in his memoir “Black Pearl: Living Black in Idaho.” Idaho Matters talks with Patterson about his experience living and working in the Gem State.

Disclosure notice: INL is a financial supporter of Boise State Public Radio.

Frankie Barnhill is the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast. She's always interested in hearing surprising and enlightening stories about life in the West. Have an idea for Idaho Matters? Drop her a line!