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Percy Sutton, a Black lawyer and entrepreneur, was born on this date in 1920.
Born in San Antonio, TX, Percy Ellis Sutton was the youngest of 15 children, all of whom became distinguished citizens in their respective professions including one who became a New York State Supreme Court judge and another a member of the Texas House of Representatives.
At the age of 12, young Sutton ran away from home by stowing away on a passenger train to New York City, a trip that took four days. He called home to San Antonio and immediately one of his brothers-in-law was sent to bring me home. When he got home, he had earned his family's respect as an adventurer.
While supporting himself, he attended Prairie View A & M, Tuskegee Institute, and Hampton Institute. He also learned to fly, and earned money as a stunt pilot at county fairs. Since he was already a flyer during World War II, he moved to New York, enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and served with the Tuskegee Airmen. Sutton won combat stars as an intelligence officer with the 332nd Fighter Group's Black 99th Pursuit Squadron in the Italian and Mediterranean Theater.
After receiving an honorable discharge with the rank of captain, Sutton enrolled in the Brooklyn College Law School and received his law degree in 1950. As a lawyer Sutton seized his place in America by fighting for American Civil Rights with the NAACP and as the counsel for Malcolm X. In 1966, Sutton ran for Manhattan Borough President, which he won with 80 percent of the vote. In 1971, he co-founded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, which purchased WLIB-AM, making it the first Black-owned station in New York City. Currently Inner City Broadcasting also owns leading radio station WBLS radio.
In 1995, Sutton became a member of the delegation of leading American business people selected by (then) U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown to represent the United States at the G-7 round table meeting on Telecommunications and High Technology.
Sutton is also the man who had the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem refurbished and reopened. He became a mentor, a pioneer, and trailblazer to people in business, government, and law. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the NAACP's Spingarn Medal. Though retired, Sutton continues to give to the community in politics, business, and communication. Percy Sutton died on December 26, 2009 (aged 89) in New York City.
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