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*On this date, in 1911, Clarence Mitchell Jr. was born. He was a Black lawyer and lobbyist from Baltimore.
Mitchell attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, receiving an A.B. degree in 1932. The following year he joined the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper as a reporter. Five years later, he ran unsuccessfully for the Maryland House of Delegates on the socialist party ticket. In 1938, he was named executive secretary of the Minnesota branch of the National Urban League.
Married to activist Juanita Jackson, the couple had four children; two eventually held local public office in Baltimore. Mitchell joined the NAACP as labor secretary in their Washington bureau in 1946. In this position, he created ties with organized labor and lobbied for civil rights legislation. Three years later, he called a National Emergency Civil Rights Mobilization conference to create pressure for group equality for a permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee. Mitchell also aided in the passing of the Civil Rights Acts of 1960, 1964, and 1968. He was known for his devotion to the legal process.
He once explained, “when you have a law, you have an instrument that will work for you permanently, whereas private agreements are more short-lived.” In 1975, Mitchell was named a member of the United States delegation at the United Nations, and in 1980; he also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Clarence Mitchell died in 1984 in Washington, D.C.
2,000 years of extraordinary achievement
by Jessie Carney Smith
Copyright 1994 Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI