To those who know him as a professional the name Ozell Sutton has come to be synonymous with integrity, determination and trailblazing. His greatest accomplishments have been in the area of civil rights.
Mr. Sutton was decoy for the Little Rock Nine, diverting the vehement anger of the mob that gathered to keep nine black children from entering Central High away from the students onto himself. He was with Dr. Martin Luther King the day he was assassinated in Memphis. You’ll find his face in pictures of the crowds that marched in Selma and Birmingham.
Mr. Sutton says his most difficult challenge in life was getting through high school for black students. So he worked his way through Dunbar High School in Little Rock as a dishwasher and a cook. From there he began his stint with the United States Marine Corps, defending the rights of Americans, black and white. The end of his military career marked a continuation of racial prejudice and persecution he experienced as a United States Marine. He returned to a civilian society that denied him the rights for which he’d fought. It was that denial that set his foot on a path that has not turned. A path paved with human degradation at his back and a determination to remove barriers ahead for himself and others to follow.
Mr. Sutton is a graduate of Philander Smith College with specialized training from a number of universities including the University of Oklahoma, the University of Arkansas, UC Berkeley and the University of Georgia. He served as special assistant under the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. Sutton was the 26th general President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. from 198 1-1984. Ebony Magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential African Americans.