Valley Political and Civil Rights Icon Fulfills Education Dream

From Chavez to King, Al Cutright recalls his times of bringing church to a time of unrest but helped build a community

Avondale, Ariz., Apr. 12 – Al Cutright, age 82, graduated from Estrella Mountain Community College in May 2018 – a goal
finally realized. You might recognize his name. Al is a living history of the country’s early struggles for civil rights.

Along with 12 younger siblings, Al Cutright moved to Arizona for a “better life.” It wasn’t uncommon for African Americans to move
their families for a job opportunity. “When we came to Arizona it was because my father’s sister, Aunt Mertha. She said that Blacks
had more opportunity to work and be paid more,” said Cutright. “Unfortunately, most of this was following the crops. While in
Arkansas, Missouri and Ohio, our family participated in sharecropping.”

Al spent most of his youth helping his father in a new church plant in a new little community called El Mirage. As the town grew, and
Cutright grew up to become more involved in the civil rights movement, he served on the city council for fourteen years. He served
under four police chiefs as police commissioner.

“I have met a lot of great people including Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Barry Goldwater, President Clinton, and Henry
Cisneros, worked with Benjamin Brooks and Clovis Campbell on many community initiatives. I was able to bring most of these great
people to the church and let the people know what was going on around them and listen to how they can affect the community. Former
Secretary of State Art Hamilton was my guest along with Rev. Oscar Tillman with the NAACP. All of the greats have either graced
the pulpit or at a minimum heard me speak of the greatness of the church on Doris Street,” said Cutright.

It was history and inspiration for young students that made Cutright a student and an advocate at Estrella Mountain Community
College.

“Al was a student in my Cultural Anthropology class and did a study on African American leaders in the community and educated the
students on Black and Civil Rights history and culture. He also studied Rap Literature, where his insight on Black music was a
powerful teaching tool. He studied American and Black History, providing real life insight into the Civil Rights movement,” said
EMCC professor Dr. Carlotta Abrams. “In poetry class, Al wrote many poems about his experience growing up in the heartland of
America. He wrote about seeing and experiencing moonshiners farm life in the 1940s, the economic migration to Arizona, and how
this was for Blacks.”

Al Cutright hasn’t stopped impacting lives in his 82 years. He continues to give back to the community. “Al actively assisted
struggling students of all races at EMCC, giving them confidence in their studies. He was an active participant in Black History
Month, giving talks and history lessons,” said Dr. Abrams.

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Estrella Mountain Community College is one of the 11 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. EMCC offers academic courses leading to associate degrees, university transfer, certificates and short-term job training to more than 14,000 students annually. The flagship campus is located on Thomas and Dysart roads in Avondale and is home to the SouthWest Skill Center. Classes are also offered online and at EMCC’s Buckeye Educational Center, located in downtown Buckeye, Ariz.