Fans of Jessie Maple Patton are celebrating the life, work and memory of the filmmaker. The trailblazing creative died Tuesday in Atlanta at the age of 86. 

Born in Louisiana in 1947, Patton pivoted from a career as a bacteriology and serology laboratory lead to a writing career with the New York Courier.

She eventually expanded her creative talents into film. Patton was the first Black woman to be admitted into the International Photographers of Motion Picture & Television Union in the 1970s. She detailed her battle to join the union in her 1977 book “How to Become a Union Camerawoman.”

Patton directed her independent feature film, “Will,” in 1981. She then went on to be recognized as the first Black woman to direct an independent feature-length film in a post-civil rights America. 

Patton went on to direct several more documentaries and films, including the 1981 dramatic feature “Twice as Nice.” It told the story of women basketball players as they prepared for the draft in the fictional MBA.

Patton and her husband Leroy Patton founded LJ Productions together. They also opened 20 West, a venue in Harlem that screened films by independent Black filmmakers. 

Speaking on the death of Patton, the Black Film Center and Archive shared some loving words about the film legend. The organization posted a full statement that Patton’s family asked them to share.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the entire family. We’re committed and dedicated to honoring her legacy,” the Black Film Center & Archive wrote.