In these final days of 2015, we pause to look back at 15 who influenced Little Rock’s cultural scene who left us in 2015.
Ozell Sutton was a writer and eyewitness to history, while making some of his own too.
Born in Gould, he moved with his family to Little Rock and graduate from Dunbar High School and Philander Smith College. In 1950, he became the Arkansas Democrat‘s first African American reporter.
He was at Central High when the Little a Rock Nine integrated, marched with Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington in 1963 and was with Dr King when he was assassinated in 1968.
He served as an aide to Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller from 1968 to 1970. From 1972 to 2003 he work for the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service in Atlanta. In that capacity he was often on the forefront in efforts to diffuse racially tense situations.
In 1962, he received an honorary doctorate from Philander Smith in recognition of his political activism in the civil rights movement. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Department of Justice in 1994. He also was awarded the Medallion of Freedom by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
In 2012, he was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition for his being one of the first African Americans to serve in the Marine Corps. His book “From Yonder to Here:” A Memoir of Dr. Ozell Sutton was published in 2009. In 2013, he was honored by inclusion on the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage This designation came for his work in 1963 to desegregate downtown Little Rock’s businesses.
Ozell Sutton was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2001.