Back in 2008, while actually supporting Hillary Clinton in the New York primary, Percy Sutton was interviewed on TV and said that he thought Barack Obama was nonetheless quite impressive. He also revealed that he had first heard about Obama 20 years previously in a letter where al-Mansour wrote, “there is a young man that has applied to Harvard. I know that you have a few friends up there because you used to go up there to speak. Would you please write a letter in support of him?”
Sutton concluded in the interview, “I wrote a letter of support of him to my friends at Harvard, saying to them I thought there was a genius that was going to be available and I certainly hoped they would treat him kindly.”
Until now, there really has been no context within which to understand the Sutton story or to buttress it as a reliable account other than the reputation of Sutton himself as one of the top leaders of the black community in Manhattan — himself a noted attorney, businessman and politician. But the new discovery of the 1979 column that established Khalid al-Mansour’s interest in creating a fund to give “financial help to disadvantaged students” does provide a clue that he might indeed — along with his patron, Arab Prince Alwaleed bin Talal — have taken an interest in the “genius” Barack Obama.