Percy Sutton, attorney to Malcolm X and a pioneering media mogul, has died in New York. He was 89.
Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson, confirmed Sutton’s death Saturday.
The son of a slave, Sutton became a fixture in Harlem after moving to New York City following his military service with the famed Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. His law office represented Malcolm X and the slain activist’s family for decades.
In the 1970s, Sutton built up a business in radio. With his brother, he purchased WLIB-AM, making it the first black-owned radio station in New York City. His Inner City Broadcasting Corp. owned stations nationwide.
Sutton was elected to political office in New York, and mentored Jesse Jackson during two presidential races.
Among Sutton’s other endeavors was his purchase and renovation of the famed Apollo Theater when the Harlem landmark’s demise appeared imminent.
In addition to his radio holdings, Sutton also headed a group that owned The Amsterdam News, the second largest black weekly newspaper in the country. The paper was later sold.
Sutton’s devotion to Harlem and its people was rarely more evident than when he spent $250,000 to purchase the shuttered Apollo Theater in 1981. The Apollo turned 70 in 2004, a milestone that was unthinkable until Sutton stepped in to save the landmark.
Sutton is survived by his wife, Leatrice; his son, Pierre, and daughter Cheryl.
Read more about Sutton’s achievements: ACJ