Alexander Carver (A.C.) Sutton, Sr., religious leader and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) state president and national board member, was born to Samuel Johnson Sutton, Sr., and Lillian Viola (Smith) Sutton on February 6, 1919, in San Antonio, Texas, and was one of fifteen children. Sutton’s godfather was the renowned scientist George Washington Carver. Sutton’s parents were public school teachers, and the Sutton family was recognized as one of the most prominent families on the East Side of San Antonio. His parents encouraged education through books and travel, and his siblings each made their mark in the fields of medicine, science, law, education, business, politics, and social service. The Sutton family home was a meeting place for the country’s leading African-American intellectuals when they traveled through San Antonio. Frequent guests to the Sutton home included Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Thurgood Marshall, and Mary McLeod Bethune. Samuel and Lillian raised their children to be respectful and to give back to their community. Sutton once said that, “[His parents] were very positive. But we had to be obedient. If anyone in the neighborhood saw us do anything wrong, we’d get a whipping.”
Alexander Sutton showed an early interest in community service by joining the NAACP at the age of twelve. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. After his graduation, Sutton returned to San Antonio and resumed the community service and entrepreneurism that would continue until his death. As a founding member of the Alamo African-American Chamber of Commerce, he supported African-American business in the city. Sutton was also involved in the local media; he hosted a weekly radio broadcast covering African-American business and served as vice-chairman of the board of Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, the largest African-American-owned media company. In addition, he was a major investor in the corporation.
During the 1960s Sutton and three of his siblings protested Joske’s policy of maintaining a “whites only” dining room and ultimately caused the store to abolish that practice. Continuing his family’s tradition of community service, Sutton was associate pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in San Antonio. While serving, he joined the Texas NAACP and served on the national board for the organization. He was first elected president of the Texas NAACP in 1976 and reelected in 1984. Sutton had his many civic duties, including serving as a juvenile probation officer for Bexar County and fulfilling his governor-appointed position as a community liaison between local judges and attorneys in the State Law Enforcement Association.
Sutton managed the family business, Sutton’s Paradise Funeral Home, until his death on March 30, 2002, in San Antonio. Rev. Alexander Carver Sutton, Sr., was buried at Southern Memorial Park and Eastview Cemetery in San Antonio.