Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr.,
“101st U.S. Senator.”
March 8, 1911- March 18, 1984
Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. was a civil rights activist and was the chief lobbyist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for nearly 30 years. He also served as a regional director for the organization .Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr… in 1950 to 1978 Clarence played a key role in unlocking non violent ways in winning passage of the landmark civil rights legislation that transformed the nation in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This eventually is what would lead him to become the first African American from Maryland elected to the United States House of Representatives.
Baltimore native Clarence Mitchell (1911–1984). Clarence Mitchell was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 8, 1911. He was the third of ten children of Clarence Maurice Mitchell and Elsie Davis Mitchell. Clarence’s brother Parren Mitchell, eleven years younger attended Lincoln University and the University of Maryland Law School. He began his career as a reporter. During World War II he served on the War Manpower Commission and the Fair Employment Practices Committee. In 1938, Mitchell married Juanita Jackson, a fellow Baltimorean who had founded a youth civil rights group and then headed the NAACP’s youth program. The Mitchells had four children. In 1938, he married Juanita Jackson, the daughter of Lillie May Carroll Jackson, both of whom were well-known civil rights activists. In 1941, he took a position with the National Full Employment and Practices Commission. In 1945, he became first labor secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Mitchell became head of the Washington office of NAACP in 1950, but continued to live in Baltimore, where he earned his law degree at the University of Maryland. He served concurrently as director of the NAACP Washington Bureau, the NAACP’s chief lobbyist, and legislative chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights from 1950 to 1978. Mitchell waged a tireless campaign on Capitol Hill to secure the passage of a comprehensive series of civil rights laws: the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the 1960 Civil Rights Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
Clarence was a resilient civil rights leader who Congress as he battle fought congress wittingly for an end to segregation. Mitchell had a good working relationship with both the Republican and Democratic leadership. He was consulted by presidents from Truman to Carter. During his years with the NAACP, the Federal government took action to prohibit discrimination in education, housing, employment and voting rights. Mitchell witnessed many milestones along the road to civil rights and helped push them through. The Congressional Quarterly reported that Mitchell “was the catalyst who organized and kept together the forces that passed the bill.” For this, Mitchell became known as the 101st Senator due to his influence in the Senate.
Clarence Mitchell retired in 1978 from the NAACP, but continued to work tirelessly for equal rights. He became chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and received the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Although Mitchell died on March 18, 1984, his unsurpassed works to make all the legislation be into approve he which he helped to pass still stands as his undying legacy.
The Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse in Baltimore was named in his honor in 1985.