ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
He also introduced the legislation which, in 1976, became Public Law 95-507, that requires proposals
from contractors to spell out their goals for awarding contracts to minority subcontractors.
This law potentially provides access to billions of dollars for minority businesses
Parren J. Mitchell
Retired Member of U.S. House of Representatives
Every Black elected official must have a simple credo: “I am elected from a mixed district, part White, part Black; I will serve all the people. But I will give my priority to Black people and the poor because they need more.”
The above statement exemplifies the political philosophy of Parren J. Mitchell, retired U.S. Representative from Maryland’s Seventh District.
Championing the causes of the Black and poor comes naturally to Mitchell. In 1950, Mitchell filed suit to compel the University of Maryland to enroll him as its first Black graduate student. There, he completed his master’s degree in sociology and was admitted to the school’s honor society. After receiving his master’s degree, Mitchell returned to teach at his alma mater, Morgan State University.
As Executive Director of Baltimore’s anti-poverty program in the late 60s, Mitchell lobbied Washington for his agency’s programs. Also during the l960s, he served as Executive Secretary for the Maryland Human Relations Commission and played the pivotal role in the enactment and implementation of Maryland’s statewide Public Accommodations Law.
In 1970, he was elected Maryland’s first Black Congressman.
In 1976, Mitchell attached to President Carter’s $4 billion Public Works Bill an amendment that compelled state, county and municipal governments seeking federal grants to set aside 10 percent of the money to retain minority firms as contractors, subcontractors; $625 million (15%) going to legitimate minority firms.
He also introduced the legislation which, in 1976, became Public Law 95-507, that requires proposals from contractors to spell out their goals for awarding contracts to minority subcontractors. This law potentially provides access to billions of dollars for minority businesses. His amendment to the $71 billion Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, required a 10 percent set-aside for disadvantaged businesses.
He served as: Whip-At-Large; Senior Member of the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee, Chairman of its Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy; Chairman of the House Small Business
Committee, Chairman of its Task Force on Minority Enterprise; Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing, Minority Enterprise and Economic Development of the Congressional Black Caucus; a Member of the Joint Economic Committee; and on the Presidential Commission on the National Agenda for the Eighties.
In 1980, he founded The Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (“MBELDEF”) and presently serves as Chairman of the Board.
He holds a total of 14 Honorary Degrees, i.e., five Doctor of Humane Letters; five Doctor of Law; and four Doctor of Social Sciences.
National and local consumer groups; civil rights groups; business and economic groups; fraternities; sororities; religious groups; and educational organizations have presented more than 3000 awards to Mr. Mitchell. He has received awards from such diverse groups as: The National Alliance of Black Educators; the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Morehouse College Alumni; the Joint Center for Political Studies; the Greater New Haven (Connecticut) Business and Professional Association; the Minority Contractors of Dayton, Ohio, the Alaska Black Caucus; and the Consumer Federation of America.
It has been said of him, “Parren’s emotions are those of a Patrick Henry . . . he didn’t say give me liberty later . . . Parren is one of God’s angry men.”
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Parren Mitchell Bio Chronology
1922 (April 29) — Born in Baltimore to Clarence M. Mitchell Sr. and Elsie Davis Mitchell. His father was a waiter at the Rennert Hotel in downtown Baltimore.
1933 — His brother Clarence returned home from Somerset County, where a black man had been lynched.
1940 — Graduated from Frederick Douglass High School and then served in the Army during World War II, winning a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Italy.
1950 — Earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morgan State College. Filed suit to compel the University of Maryland to enroll him as its first Black graduate student.
1952 — Received M.A. degree in sociology from the University of Maryland and returned to teach at Morgan State.
1954 1957 — Supervisor of probation work for the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City
1963 – 1965 — Executive director of the Maryland Human Relations Commission in the Tawes administration,
1965 1968 — Selected by Mayor McKeldin as executive director of the Baltimore Community Action Agency (CAA), the local arm of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. The link between the militant civil rights groups and the city administration according to the Sun newspaper during three days and four nights of violence that was quelled after thousands of Army and National Guard troops were sent into the city.
Resigned as head of the CAA in July 1968, complaining that the Mayor D’Alesandro had assigned him a subordinate role in the anti-poverty effort, a step the mayor blamed on federal government dictates.
1968 — Rejoined the Morgan State faculty and made his first run for Congress, a bid to unseat Samuel N. Friedel, who had represented the heavily Jewish and Democratic 7th District since 1953. In the Democratic primary, received 15,000 votes, falling 5,500 short of Mr. Friedel. Political experts were impressed.
1970 — Defeated Mr. Friedel by 38 votes in the 40 percent black district as a third major candidate, a Jewish state senator, drained away votes from the popular incumbent. Became Maryland’s first Black Congressman to the first of his eight terms in Congress. Reelected to seven succeeding Congresses from the 7th District through 1987.
1976 — Attached to President Carter’s $4 billion Public Works Bill an amendment that compelled state, county and municipal governments seeking federal grants to set aside 10 percent of the money to retain minority firms as contractors, subcontractors; $625 million (15%) going to legitimate minority firms.
1976 — Introduced the legislation which became Public Law 95-507, that requires proposals from contractors to spell out their goals for awarding contracts to minority subcontractors. This law potentially provides access to billions of dollars for minority businesses. His amendment
1977 Appeared on the cover of Black Enterprise
1978 — Ebony magazine feature listing Mitchell among the 100 most influential African-Americans
1980 — Founded The Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (“MBELDEF”) and presently serves as Chairman of the Board.
1982 — Amended the $71 billion Surface Transportation Assistance Act of required a 10 percent set-aside for disadvantaged businesses.
1984 — Clarence Mitchell died
1985 Announced, at age 63, he would not seek re-election for a ninth term in Congress.
1987 — Nephews Clarence M. Mitchell III and his brother, Michael B. Mitchell, were convicted in federal court in of accepting $50,000 from Wedtech to obstruct an investigation of the company by the House Small Business Committee, which Representative Mitchell headed
1989 Gave speech at a Baltimore teachers union observance of Dr. King’s birthday and stated “If you believe in fighting racism, you make a commitment for the rest of your life.”
2007 (Monday, May 28) at the age of 85, passed away. On June 5th more than 1,000 people paid their last respects to the Congressman at the St. James’ Episcopal Church in West Baltimore
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(a) 1999, 2000 MBELDEF — The Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (“MBELDEF”) is a national, non-profit, public interest law firm founded in 1980 by former U.S. Congressman Parren J. Mitchell (D-MD, retired). MBELDEF’s litigation activities are intended to achieve equity and fairness in the marketplace on behalf of minority business enterprises (“MBE’s”).
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By Ellis Cose
From a venerated and bestselling voice on American life comes a contemporary look at the decline of black rage; the demise of white guilt; and the intergenerational shifts in how blacks and whites view, and interact with, each other. In the heady aftermath of President Obama’s election, conventional wisdom suggested that the bitter, angry, and destructive elements of discrimination were ebbing at last and America was becoming a postracial nation. . . . Weaving material from myriad interviews as well as two large and ambitious surveys that he conductedone of black Harvard MBAs and the other of graduates of A Better Chance, a program offering elite educational opportunities to thousands of young people of color since 1963Cose offers an invaluable portrait of contemporary America that attempts to make sense of what a people do when the dream, for some, is finally within reach as one historical era ends and another begins.Ecco, 2011
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Obama and Black Americans: the Paradox of HopeBy Gary YoungeBut for all the ways black America has felt better about itself and looked better to others, it has not actually fared better. In fact, it has been doing worse. The economic gap between black and white has grown since Obama took power. Under his tenure black unemployment, poverty and foreclosures are at their highest levels for at least a decade.
Millions of black kids may well aspire to the presidency now that a black man is in the White House. But such a trajectory is less likely for them now than it was under Bush. Herein lies what is at best a paradox and at worst a contradiction within Obamas core base of support. The very group most likely to support himblack Americansis the same group that is doing worse under him.TheNation
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By C. Fraser Smith
Though he lived throughout much of the Southand even worked his way into parts of the North for a timeJim Crow was conceived and buried in Maryland. From Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s infamous decision in the Dred Scott case to Thurgood Marshall’s eloquent and effective work on Brown v. Board of Education, the battle for black equality is very much the story of Free State women and men. Here, Baltimore Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith recounts that tale through the stories, words, and deeds of famous, infamous, and little-known Marylanders. He traces the roots of Jim Crow laws from Dred Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson and describes the parallel and opposite early efforts of those who struggled to establish freedom and basic rights for African Americans.
Following the historical trail of evidence, Smith relates latter-day examples of Maryland residents who trod those same steps, from the thrice-failed attempt to deny black people the vote in the early twentieth century to nascent demonstrations for open access to lunch counters, movie theaters, stores, golf courses, and other public and private institutionsstruggles that occurred decades before the now-celebrated historical figures strode onto the national civil rights scene. Smith’s lively account includes the grand themes and the state’s major players in the movementFrederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, and Lillie May Jackson, among others.and also tells the story of the struggle via several of Maryland’s important but relatively unknown men and womensuch as Gloria Richardson, John Prentiss Poe, William L. “Little Willie” Adams, and Walter Sondheimwho prepared Jim Crow’s grave and waited for the nation to deliver the body.Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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updated 6 April 2010