Saturday, January 9, 2010

Percy Ellis Sutton

By Julius Tajiddin

I have been pretty blessed to have met and/or been mentored by many men who I have admired, sometimes idolized, during the course of my life, i.e., Muhammad Ali, John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Josef ben Jochanan, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, James Cagney, John Kenneth Galbraith, Denzel Washington, the Honorable P.J. Patterson, President Barack Obama, Michael Jackson, my father and the Honorable Percy Ellis Sutton.

Since this blog is about Percy Sutton you'll have to wait for another time to hear the exciting stories about the others.

I learned a lot about Percy from my father. He was one of my dad's lawyers in the 60's and early 70's. My dad spoke very highly of Percy and his brother Oliver. In fact when I did start speaking to Percy on my own I found out that he was quite fond of my father as well.

In fact Percy was one of the giants that showed me that my father was a giant himself. That gave me a greater respect for him.

One day I asked Percy to do an audio segment on my father to be used on a compilation album that I was working on in his honor. This was around 2002 or 2003. He was so gracious about doing it and said some of the nicest things about my father. The album got delayed, but do expect it soon.

I have to say that everytime I saw Percy interact with people he was always so gracious and willing to serve. But that doesn't mean he would write you a blank check either.

A few years ago I asked him had he been hearing about my activism in the Harlem community. He told me, "Of Course!" I then asked him what he thought about some of my positions. One of the things he questioned me on was the 125th Street Rezoning. He asked me why was that such a bad thing. I told him my reasons and gave him an analysis from my perspective. He gave me his blessings and told me to continue doing what I was doing. But I will admit this. He told me not to be so combative and adverserial with people. He said that I should find a way to work with those who oppose me and win them over. That would be my greatest victory.

Lastly, the photo used in this blog article was taken by me in 1991 at the Apollo Theater. It was a special screening (maybe premiere) of the movie A Rage in Harlem, starring Robin Givens, Forrest Whitaker and Gregory Hines. Bill Dukes was the director. Notice how Percy is genuinely giving his time and undivided attention to this woman. That was a great trait Mr. Sutton had. He was a good listener. Therefore he could give you an intelligent response.

I also chose this photo because it does show the Apollo in its glorious days after Percy had acquired it. For those who attended Mr. Sutton's funeral and heard the bathroom story ( Amsterdam News Vol. 101 No. 2 January 7-13, 2010 Page 17 @ 28) this photo was taken after that. Smile.

Percy's physical presence is no longer with us. But if we search our hearts and souls we will find those intelligent words he spoke to us. We will be reminded of those noble actions and grand manners. And if we're lucky, we might be able to produce a few more Percy Suttons.
Photo (C) 1991 Julius Tajiddin
(C) 2010 Julius Tajiddin