Growing up poor on Chicago’s South Side, Deval Patrick rotated beds nightly with his mother and sister, with one taking the top bunk, the other the bottom bunk and the last having to sleep on the floor.

From those beginnings, Patrick took an unlikely path to Harvard, corporate law, the Clinton administration and, finally, history. On Tuesday, his defeat of Republican Kerry Healey in the race for Massachusetts governor made him the second black governor of a U.S. state since Reconstruction.