4 distinguished Americans leave indelible mark on society

Fred Shuttlesworth,Derrick Bell,Rose E. McCoy,Della K. Sutton

By Alice Thomas Tisdale

Jackson Advocate Publisher

Whether it’s in Jackson, MS, Milwaukee, WI, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Oakland, CA, Birmingham, AL, Orangeburg, SC, or New York, NY, four iconic human rights advocates are being lauded for leaving an indelible impression on society. The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, attorney Derrick Bell, Dr. Rose Embly McCoy and Evangelist Della Mae King Sutton all succumbed to varying illnesses last week. Their lives will be celebrated in separate memorial services beginning Saturday. Fred Shuttlesworth, who organized the non-violent resistance to Birmingham’s segregation laws, died Oct. 5 at the age of 89. “Fred was the soul of the Birmingham movement,” noted Birmingham Mayor William Bell. Condolences also came from the White House. “As one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Shuttlesworth dedicated his life to advancing the cause of justice for all Americans.

He was a testament to the strength of the human spirit. And today we stand on his shoulders, and the shoulders of all those who marched and sat and lifted their voices to help perfect our union,” said President Obama. Funeral services will be held on Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. at Faith Chapel Church in McDonald Chapel. The memorial to Shuttlesworth will begin on Oct. 23 at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute where he will lie in repose from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Derrick Bell, a renowned civil rights activist and legal scholar in New York also died on Oct. 5. He was 80.

Bell became a pioneer for civil rights when he resigned his post with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department after he was asked to terminate his membership with the NAACP. Following his departure from the Justice Department, Bell served as associate counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where he fought to end segregation in southern schools. Mr. Bell later went on to become a distinguished author and legal scholar. “We are deeply saddened by this news,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Through his work as a legal scholar, author, and educator, Derrick Bell helped expose the world to the civil rights movement and the racism in our legal system.”

Bell joined the faculty of Harvard in 1969 and taught a groundbreaking course in civil rights law. In 1971, he became the first tenured black professor at Harvard Law School. Bell later went on to the University of Oregon School of Law where he became the first African American dean at a non-black law school. A memorial service will be held Nov. 3 at Riverside Church. NYU Law School has scheduled a tribute for Feb. 28, 2012. News spread quickly to the state of Mississippi from Virginia that Dr. Rose Embly McCoy succumbed Oct. 4 after a lengthy illness. She was 97. No one was more saddened than longtime friend Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS).

“Dr. McCoy and her late husband Dr. A.H. McCoy dedicated their lives to improving access to quality health care, promoting education, and advancing civil rights. Her stance as a visionary set new precedents, which realigned the way many practitioners in the South viewed the teachings of psychology. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the efforts of Dr. McCoy and my prayers and thoughts are with her family, friends and loved ones,” he said. McCoy taught psychology at Jackson State University and was the department chairwoman when she retired in 1980. The university auditorium is named for her. She was also active in the redevelopment of the Farish Street Historic District, owning several properties in the area being managed by her daughter Roslind, she was living in Virginia for the past several years. Funeral services will be held Oct. 19 at 12:00 noon at the Rose Embly McCoy Auditorium.

A family hour will be held Oct. 18 at Peoples Funeral Home Chapel, 886 N. Farish Street, at 6:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Drs. Rose E. and A.H. McCoy Scholarship Fund at Jackson State University. Peoples Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Missionary Evangelist Della Mae King Sutton died on Oct. 8 at the age of 70. She served her family, church and community with distinction. As a worker in the vineyard at New McRaven Hill Missionary Baptist Church, where her husband Rev. Jesse Sutton, Jr., serves as pastor, Evangelist Sutton helped direct her sons – Frank and Arthur – into the ministry.

Her daughter Doris Renee’ Sutton-Coleman is also active in the church. “Della introduced me to God,” recalled longtime friend Jackie Tyler. “She geared me to the Lord over 30 years ago. She took me under her wings and showed me the workings of God and his power.” Evangelist Sutton attended Mississippi Industrial College in Holly Springs, where she received her undergraduate degree. She later earned a Master’s degree from Jackson State University. She taught school for over 30 years at a number of schools, including East Side High School in Olive Branch; Oakley Training School; Mendenhall Junior High; and Northside Elementary School in Pearl. Evangelist Sutton will lie in state Friday, Oct. 14 at New McRaven Hill Missionary Baptist Church (1530 Pear Street, Jackson). Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Homegoing services will be on Saturday, Oct.15 at New McRaven Hill at 11:00 a.m. Westhaven Memorial Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Editor’s Note: The Jackson Advocate will pay special tribute to Dr. Rose Embly McCoy and Evangelist Della Mae King Sutton in next week’s special edition, marking the beginning of its 74th year of publication.