The Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland unanimously approved the naming of the Art-Sociology Building after the late Congressman Parren Mitchell, a distinguished alumnus of the Department of Sociology.
University leadership agrees that celebrating the memory of Parren Mitchell allows us to recognize the difficulties our nation has faced in overcoming racial and social inequalities, as well as the challenges we still face to overcome less-visible barriers to graduate education for racial minorities.
In his youth, Parren joined his brother Clarence Mitchell Jr.— who went on to become Chief Lobbyist of the NAACP—in protesting against segregation in the city of Baltimore. In 1942, Parren Mitchell served in the Ninety-Second Infantry Division of the US Army as a commissioned officer and company commander during World War II and received a Purple Heart. After his discharge in 1946, he attended Morgan State University under the GI Bill, and he received a Bachelor’s Degree in 1950. He then applied to the graduate program in sociology at the University of Maryland.
In October 1950, the Baltimore City Court ordered UMD to accept Mitchell as a full-time student in College Park, where he faced an unwelcoming environment. Despite these challenges, he graduated in 1952 with honors. Mitchell would state later that the sociological training he received at College Park would shape his activism in politics and social change for years to come.
“Congressman Mitchell’s accomplishments brought him broad recognition but were attained while in the pursuit of the public good, and he serves as a shining example of the ideals we seek to foster as a public academic institution,” said Gregory F. Ball, Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) at the University of Maryland. “This naming honors the memory of a UMD graduate who attained personal prestige while overcoming great obstacles to construct a more just and better world.”
After serving in many academic and public positions in the 1950s and 1960s, Mitchell became the first African American elected to Congress from Maryland in 1970, as well as the first African-American congressman from below the Mason-Dixon Line since 1898. Representing Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District, Congressman Mitchell was one of the 13 founding members of the Black Caucus, and became known as a staunch supporter of minority-owned businesses.
Naming the Art-Sociology Building after the late congressman helps recognize and honor Parren Mitchell’s legacy by continuing to advance greater social inclusion, both at the University of Maryland and the community at large.
Join us for the dedication ceremony on December 3, 2015 at 2pm in the Art-Sociology Atrium. Parking is available in Lot 1B, located at the intersection of Campus Drive and Alumni Drive.