Civil Rights Activist Ozell Sutton Dies at 90

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Ozell Sutton    
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Civil rights activist Ozell Sutton, who was one of the first African Americans to serve in the United States Marines Corps, died "peacefully" at St. Joseph Hospital in Atlanta Saturday, his daughter Alta Sutton told the Associated Press. He was 90.

Sutton told AP that her father celebrated his birthday a week ago.

"He was a wonderful husband and father," Sutton told AP. "They don't make daddies like him. He was a gem, a rare pearl. He was such a tremendous force. He lived a great life."


Ozell Sutton was alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the march for equal rights in Selma, Ala., in 1965 and three years later was in the Memphis, Tenn., hotel when King was assassinated in 1968, AP reports.

Ozell Sutton received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012 for his work in the United States Marine Corps. He would become the "director of the U.S. Justice Department's Community Relations Service in Atlanta until he retired in 2003," AP reports.

Alta Sutton told the news service that her father was also the general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and worked as director of the Governor's Council on Human Resources for then-Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller. Ozell Sutton also worked as a journalist for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette and "played a role in helping enroll nine African-American students at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957," according to AP.

"It's seems like the longer you have them, the harder it is to let them go," Alta Sutton told AP of losing her father. "He's run the race and he has served."


AP notes that funeral arrangements were pending.

Read more at ABC News.

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