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Dinkins, Paterson, Rangel Discuss Sutton Legacy

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In a rare group interview, the remaining members of the so-called "Gang of Four" appeared Monday night on NY1's "Road To City Hall" where they discussed the legacy of Harlem politician and entrepreneur Percy Sutton who died over the weekend at the age of 89. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.

Former Mayor David Dinkins, Congressman Charles Rangel and Former New York Secretary of State Basil Paterson lived their political lives alongside Percy Sutton. And without him, they say, their careers might not have shaped up the way they did.

"We three and others have always said everybody stands on somebody's shoulders. And we say that we stand on Percy's shoulders," Dinkins said.

During their appearance on "Road To City Hall," the three remaining members of the so-called "Gang of Four" recalled the first time they met and the political campaigns along the way, all while playfully disagreeing over the details of their stories.


The four men were a Harlem political powerhouse for decades. But their relationship didn't get off to a great start. Rangel and Paterson recall not hitting it off with Sutton immediately.

"He was a good friend of my brother's. He never was a good friend of mine. All I knew was that all I belonged to he was against it," Rangel said.

"He called me once on behalf of a client and he was very fresh to me," Paterson said.

Their feelings soon changed, and the men became a team.

"We got together and we never, never looked back," Rangel said.

Sutton's career in elected politics started off in the New York State Assembly. He then became the borough president of Manhattan. He had hoped the relationships he developed during that time would propel him to City Hall in 1977, but a crowded field and unfulfilled promises crushed his dream.


"It's very possible that Percy might have finished at least second and been in a runoff, black mayor of the City of New York," Dinkins said.

Out of elective politics, Sutton became a wildly successful businessman, starting the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation.

"He said long before this that he wanted to go into the media business. He had already said it, Amsterdam News," Paterson said.

But most importantly, they say, he paved the way for African-American politicians, like David Dinkins who was elected mayor in 1989 -- an achievement, he says, that wouldn't have happened without Percy Sutton.

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