Originally reported by: https://www.capitalgazette.com/


Carl Snowden and I have been staunch advocates for naming an appropriate state landmark for Congressman Parren J. Mitchell to remember his great contributions to Maryland and America.  When we are asked why Maryland should recognize him, we respond with the history of this Maryland trailblazing bridge-builder’s contribution to developing a stronger, more robust and inclusive democracy.

On April 26, the West County Democratic Club will be joined by Mitchell’s family to celebrate the late congressman’s legacy and demand that the former Francis Scott Key Bridge be rebuilt and renamed after Mitchell, a true bridge-builder.

Mitchell was the first African American elected to Congress from Maryland in 1971. He was a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus. He successfully created a federal minority business set-aside program to ensure that women, African Americans and the business community of color had a fair opportunity to access wealth created from federal business contracts.

Mitchell successfully sued the then-segregated School of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park for admission to its Master’s program. He became its first African American graduate and the University’s Art & Sociology Building now bears his name.

Mitchell was a Purple Heart recipient who served under Gen. George S. Patton in the U.S. Army. Mitchell, although elected to the 7th District representing Baltimore, advocated for African Americans in every district in Maryland.

Mitchell once quipped, “People may not ever know my name, but they will know of the greater fight for humanity and Civil Rights of which I was a part.”

He was a bridge builder of opportunities for all of Maryland’s citizens.

We encourage everyone to join the April 26 celebration of Mitchell’s contributions and to join the fight to put his name on the rebuilt structure where the Francis Scott Key Bridge once stood.

The event, “Maryland’s Parren J. Mitchell Dinner & Salute,” will be at 6 p.m. at Club Meade, 6600 Mapes Road, Fort Meade.

Tickets to attend the dinner salute to remember and celebrate his life are available at the door. Previous speakers have included Honorable Elijah Cummings, political commentator Jayne Miller, the late Joe Madison, “The Black Eagle,” and America’s top voting rights advocate Barbara Arnwine.

The keynote speaker will be a recipient of the inclusive business-building efforts that Mitchell promoted throughout his life, Brooke Lierman, the 34th comptroller of Maryland and the first woman to serve as state comptroller.

For ticket information, please contact Antonio Downing at (571) 217-1506 or  Antonio.downing@gmail.com or Mary DesChamps at (301) 509-6766 or mdeschamps1609@yahoo.com.

Daryl D. Jones is a local attorney who was the first African American male to serve on the Anne Arundel County Council and currently co-leads the Transformative Justice Coalition, a national voting rights and social justice organization.