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Dedication of Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building on Dec 3

Dear University of Maryland community,

This Thursday, December 3, at 2 p.m., the University will officially dedicate the Art-Sociology Building as the Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building in memory of the late congressman and civil rights leader who desegregated our campus. Everyone is welcome.

A graduate of Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School and Morgan State, Mr. Mitchell commanded a unit in the all-black 92nd Infantry Division in World War II. He earned a Purple Heart fighting in Italy.

In 1950, Mr. Mitchell, represented by his attorney Thurgood Marshall, sued the University of Maryland because he was ineligible for admission on account of his race. He won and became the first African-American graduate student to study on campus. He received a M.A. in sociology with honors in 1952. 

Recalling his experience, Mr. Mitchell described the silence. How table after table in the cafeteria grew quiet when he walked past. How no one spoke or smiled. 

Later, he became Maryland's first African-American elected to Congress and co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus. In his 16-year career representing the 7th congressional district of Maryland, he championed civil rights and economic opportunity.

Mr. Mitchell often said that the study of sociology prepared him for success in public service. The chair of our Department of Sociology and the Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences recommended naming the building in his honor. I endorsed the recommendation. The USM Board of Regents approved it.

When Mr. Mitchell passed away in 2008, his congressional colleagues eulogized him as a person who tore down walls and built bridges. Earlier, our African-American alumni initiated a scholarship endowment in his name.

Our Sociology Department started the annual Parren J. Mitchell Symposium on race and educational opportunity. Their video (11 min.) on his legacy is at:

The addition of Parren J. Mitchell's name to the Art-Sociology building honors his contributions to diversity and inclusion as core values of the University of Maryland today. These values will inspire new generations to contribute to our nation's progress toward a more perfect union. 


  Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland  Ceremony excerpts: