If I Only Knew – I Wish I Knew
I took this picture of Mr. Percy Sutton (Center) in 2000 while conducting a tour of Harlem for the above group from LaGuardia Community College. Shortly after starting the tour we encountered Mr. Percy Sutton who was on his way to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The great thing about Harlem is that notables from the community are constantly walking the streets, some are my friends and when possible I introduce them to my guests.
At this time I knew Mr. Percy Sutton was the former Lawyer for Malcolm X and that he had authored the plan to save the Apollo Theater, but I now know that there was so much that I didn’t know about him until now. I didn’t know about his controversial Mayors race of 1977, that ultimately resulted in Mr. David Dinkins becoming the first African-American Mayor of New York City in 1989. I didn’t know that there are so many who started their journalism careers out of college via one of his many media outlets (WBLI or WBLS) through out the country.
I didn’t know that it was Mr. Sutton who some 35 years ago worked with City, State and National tourism associations to promote Harlem as a tourist destination. It was at this time (mid 1970’s) that many stayed as far from Harlem as possible. Now Harlem is one of the top 3 most requested tourist destinations on the Island of Manhattan/NYC. Even after becoming a wealthy man, owning radio stations across the land, he still was very approachable as I remember him stopping to take the above photo with my group. I now know that he made it possible for Harlem Heritage Tours to exist – I now know that I owe him a major debt – I wish I knew it then. I would have thanked Mr. Sutton.