Sunday, December 27, 2009

Being Percy Sutton

Percy Sutton (24 November 1920 – 26 December 2009) was a civil rights activist, lawyer and entrepreneur.

Percy Sutton was a San Antonio, Texas native. Percy Sutton was the last of fifteen children. His parents Samuel and Lillian were both educators with his father being one of the first blacks in Bexar County. His father also served as principal of three high schools. All of his siblings graduated from college. His brothers included G J Sutton (the first black elected official in San Antonio, Texas) and Oliver Sutton (judge on the New York Supreme Court). Sutton attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1936 and was recognized with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America as an adult. Sutton states that Scouting was a key factor in shaping his life.

Sutton attended and graduated from Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee Institute and Hampton Institute. He went on to attend Brooklyn Law School. During World War II, he served with the Tuskegee Airmen as an intelligence officer.

He was married to Leatrice Sutton since 1943 up until his death in 2009.


(Photo: Percy Sutton to the left and Malcolm X in Harlem, 1963)


septembermom said...

A man apparently of amazing zeal, spirit and commitment. That is a great picture of Mr. Sutton. What an engaging smile!

Dave Wheeler said...


What a terrific and inspiring story, made even more meaningful given the time in our history it occurred. A strong family, a focus on education, and positive influence/activity outside the home can overcome a great many barriers and challenges.

Thanks for sharing this Judith...there are many lessons to be learned and shared from Mr. Sutton's life!

Judith Ellis said...

Indeed, Kelly! His parents were obviously amazing too. In the 19th century his parents were both educators and ALL of their fifteen children went to college. Percy Sutton was the youngest. And, yes, he had an engaging smile but so did Malcolm X. Regarding the latter, I think he is greatly misunderstood. I also think that we often do not consider history or the ways that Malcolm X's life was transformed by what he saw and his journey to Mecca. I learned of both Percy Sutton and Malcolm X in our home many years ago. Both were great inspirations. We were taught to look beyond the obvious.

Judith Ellis said...

Dave - Yes, it's a great story. Mr. Percy passed yesterday and it is my pleasure to share this extraordinary story of this wonderful American family. There are many such stories dating back to the same time. I am happy that it has inspire you.

Brosreview said...

Thanks for sharing this. This is inspiring indeed. Hmm, one of your "being inspired by others" stories, eh? I believe one can seek inspiration from all regardless of what he/she is. There is this single characteristic that is always commendable!

Judith Ellis said...

Yes, most certainly inspirational. I learned of Mr. Sutton's death later in the morning. I shall definitely write more of him in the future. By the way, he owned the Apollo Theater in Harlem.