A highly revered leader in the Civil Rights Movement has died in Atlanta, according to family members. Ozell Sutton who worked directly with Dr. Martin L. King Jr. died at Atlanta’s St. Joseph’s Hospital on Saturday, Dec. 19 at the age of 90. Sutton marched with King in Selma, Alabama, and was present at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, when Dr. King was assassinated.
Sutton was among the first Blacks to serve in the Marine Corps during World War II and went on to remain active in civil rights issues for most of his life. He was also the 26th national president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity the nation’s largest Black fraternity. He had a long career in government service and was director of the U.S. Justice Department’s Community Relations Service in Atlanta until he retired in 2003. In addition, Sutton worked with Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller as the director of the Governor’s Council on Human Resources and was a founding member of the executive board of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. During the turbulent civil rights era he was instrumental in enrolling the “Little Rock Nine,” students who were attempting to enroll at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Sutton celebrated his 90th birthday a week ago.