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Percy E. Sutton, Politician and Malcolm X Lawyer, Dies at 89

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Percy E. SuttonPercy E. Sutton, the pioneering civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X has died at the age of 89.

In a written statement, President Barack Obama states: “Percy Sutton was a true hero to African Americans in New York City and around the country. We will remember him for his service to the country as a Tuskegee Airman, to New York State as a state assemblyman, to New York City as Manhattan Borough President, and to the community of Harlem in leading the effort to revitalize the world renowned Apollo Theater. His life-long dedication to the fight for civil rights and his career as an entrepreneur and public servant made the rise of countless young African Americans possible. Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to his family on this sad day.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson recalled Sutton talking about electing a Black president as early as 1972.

He states that Sutton was influential in getting his 1984 campaign going.

Born on November 24, 1920 in San Antonio, Texas, Sutton was the youngest of 15 siblings. His father was born free, three years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Both parents were educators and business people. Sutton supported himself with odd jobs while attending three historically black colleges: Prairie View College, Hampton Institute, and Tuskegee Institute. He joined the United States Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet and served as an intelligence officer in World War II with the famous Tuskegee Airmen.

After being honorably discharged in 1945, Sutton earned his law degree from Brooklyn Law School and passed the New York bar in 1950. He then returned to the military as a trial judge advocate.

In 1953, Sutton left the military and, with his brother, Oliver Sutton, and George Covington, set up a law partnership. For many years, Percy Sutton was the attorney for Malcolm X. After Malcolm’s death, Sutton continued to represent the Shabazz family, when needed, without cost. The Sutton and Covington law firm, always socially conscious, handled many cases without cost.

Sutton was elected President of the New York NAACP in 1961 and participated in, and gave leadership to, many civil rights demonstrations and protests. He helped to integrate the Greyhound Bus Station lunch counter in Montgomery, Alabama in 1961.

Sutton’s early political efforts were not too successful. But after 11 years (1953-1964) of losing elections, Sutton was elected a New York State Assemblyman in 1964.

As an Assemblyman, Sutton was a major supporter of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Another initiative of his was the Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (S.E.E.K.) program, which, today, enables thousands of disadvantaged students to gain a college education.

In 1966, the New York City Council chose Sutton to become Manhattan Borough President. Reelected in his own right by an overwhelming majority, he was, for 11 years (1966-77), the highest elected African American official in the state.

Center In 1971, Sutton founded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, which purchased and developed radio stations WLIBAM and WBLS-FM; making them the first black-owned stations in New York City. In 1981, Sutton rescued from bankruptcy the world famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem. He created the nationally syndicated television show, “It’s Showtime at the Apollo,” and operated the theater until 1991.

In 1995 and 1996, Sutton represented the United States as a business delegate to the Group of Seven (G-7) Nations meeting on Telecommunications and High Technology in Brussels, and the G-7 developing nations Intelligence Technology Conference in South Africa, respectively.

Sutton has received more than 750 national, international, and local awards. In 1986, Sutton was granted the NAACP’s highest award, the Spingarn Medal.

Sobriety Checkpoints Planned for New Year's Holiday

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The California Highway Patrol will conduct a sobriety checkpoint and driver’s license inspection on Thursday, December 31, 2009 in the Woodcrest area.

The sobriety checkpoint will be staffed by California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers who are trained in the detection of alcohol and/or drug impaired drivers.

The officers will be equipped with state of the art, hand held breath testing devices which provide an accurate measure of blood alcohol concentrations of drivers suspected of being under the influence.

Each year, members of our community are needlessly maimed and killed on our roads.

Our goal is to ensure the safe passage of each and every motorist by targeting roads where there is a high frequency of drunk driving. A sobriety checkpoint is an effective tool for achieving this goal and is designed to augment the existing patrol operations. By publicizing our efforts we believe that we can deter motorists from drinking and driving.

Volunteering During the Holiday Season

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A Christmas holiday dinner was recently held at the Masons Building in San Bernardino with volunteers, young and old, working side-by-side preparing and serving hot meals to be delivered to shut-ins as well as serving the flow of community people that arrived.

One club from Riverside volunteered for their second year to help out. Other volunteers were drivers using their cars or an agency bus who drove through the community transporting seniors to the dinner or helping to deliver some of the food boxes.


RDP Seeks Nominations for the 2010 Roy Hord "Volunteer of the Year" Award

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The Roy Hord “Volunteer of the Year” Award is presented each year at Riverside Downtown Partnership’s (RDP) Annual Meeting and Award Ceremony.

This year’s gala event takes place Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Riverside.

The late Roy Hord was a former RDP Board Member who faithfully served in the community of Riverside for over 25 years.

The Roy Hord “Volunteer of the Year” Award is a special award that was established in 2003 in his honor, given to individuals who exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism. This person should be dedicated to the community and have a history of numerous hours of volunteerism in various areas especially working with youth. Past recipients include:

· The Roy Hord Family-2003

· Bill Gardner-2004

· Douglas R. Shackelton-2005

· Barbara Purvis-2006

· Geraldine Bowden-2007

· Dell Roberts-2008

· Nanci Larsen-2009 RDP is accepting nominations for this prestigious award.

Other outstanding achievements that will be recognized at this ceremony are Downtown Improvement; Arts & Culture; Downtown Public Event; Downtown Business Activity; Downtown Safety & Security; and Chair Award.

This elegant evening includes a social networking cocktail hour, a delicious dinner buffet catered by Marriott Riverside, an opportunity drawing, the awards ceremony, and ending with recognition of outgoing and incoming RDP board members.

Tickets are $50 per person, or $450 per table of ten. To purchase tickets or make a reservation call (951) 781-7335. RDP also welcomes any donations for the opportunity drawing. If you would like to donate an item please contact Natasha Ferguson at (951) 341-6550 or email rdpnatasha@ sbcglobal.net.

If you know someone deserving of The Roy Hord “Volunteer of the Year” Award, submit the person’s name and a description of why you feel they qualify as outstanding volunteer of the year (in 300 words or less). The deadline for nominations is Friday, Jan. 15, 2010.

Please send your nominations to:

Riverside Downtown Partnership, 3666 University Ave., Suite #100, Riverside, Calif. 92501,

or visit www.RiversideDowntown.org to download a form from the Web site.

Christmas Meaning: Giving When It Hurts

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Jobless father gives generously, even as his bank account shrinks

By Chris Levister –

Larry Eugene Dunbar knows something about intense and stressful situations.

Before the out-of-work Redlands engineer graduated from Ohio University, he managed to survive some of Cleveland’s meanest most unforgiving streets. Dunbar served as a medic and firefighter making less than $25,000.

Larry Eugene Dunbar of Redlands lost his job as an engineer in June. He and his family continue giving to the Salvation Army and other Inland charities even when it hurts.“Running into blazing buildings I saw some of the most inhumane conditions; chronic homelessness, domestic violence, gang fights, rape, drug use, muggings, scams and prostitution. By the time I started college I’d seen it all.”

That was until his 11-year-old sister Eliza died suddenly from a rare brain cancer.

“Her passing rocked my world,” he recalls. “God wasn’t supposed to take her before he took me.” Dunbar lost focus dropped out of college and for a year languished in and out of homeless shelters until he met a paraplegic man who’d lost his entire family in a tragic auto accident.

“After hearing my story, he gave me a $100 and put me on a bus back to Ohio University.”

What he learned from that experience says Dunbar is “there’s always someone worse off than you are. For Dunbar, his wife Sharmane and their three children, charitable giving means giving even when it hurts.

“It has always been very important to us to teach our children the “true” meaning of Christmas and with that said we usually try to do something for those in worst shape that we are.”

Normally the Dunbar’s “adopt” a family every year. This year however, has been a whole other story.

Like many others, with the economy failing as it is, the Dunbar’s are having an extremely hard time.

They had to ask a local food bank for milk, bread and other staples.

But in the depressing situation the Dunbar’s find themselves in, it only makes them want to try and give more. They decided that although the family did not have extra money to “adopt” a family this year, or buy new toys for toy drives they could still find a special way to help those that may not be as fortunate as they are.

Consistent with his beliefs on charitable giving, since late November every Friday Dunbar rolls up a wad of cash from his unemployment check and stuffs it in an Inland Salvation Army Red Kettle.

“Give to those less fortunate even when you’re having hard times yourself,” he said.

“My children asked to give away their toys that they no longer play with to those who need them, so everyone can have a Christmas. I am blessed at being able to watch my daughter wanting to offer her strollers, dolls and dress up clothes saying that some other girl might love them as much as she did.”

“And my oldest son willing to give up his GameBoy, Air Guitar and other toys he has collected since he was young that he loves, but is at an age that he no longer plays with them! Even my three year old has been helping hold up the bags and shaking his little head yes or no on whether or not he still really wants to keep something.”

“To my amazement I feel like this year we are helping more than we ever have even though we don’t have the income we have had in the past. I feel more blessed today than I have in a long time. Blessed in the fact that my children really grasp the concept of giving and not something they just say they understand.”

In the end it’s really simple says Dunbar. “I believe the more you give the more comes back to you.”


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BVN National News Wire