Mitchell, Arthur Wergs
(1883-1968)
   Born in Lafayette, Alabama, Arthur Mitchell worked his way through Tuskegee Institute and qualified as a teacher. He established Armstrong Agricultural School in West Butler, Alabama, in 1908 and served in the infantry during World War I. He studied briefly at Columbia University and was admitted to the bar. He began to practice law in Washington, D.C., in 1927 but moved to Chicago in 1929. A lifelong Republican, Mitchell switched to the Democratic Party and in 1935 became the first African American Democratic congressman when, supported by Mayor Edward Kelly, he defeated Oscar De Priest. His most notable action came in 1937 after he was forced to give up a first-class seat in a train crossing into Arkansas and move to the segregated “Jim Crow” car. In 1941, Mitchell took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that he had been denied equal treatment. A number of rail companies abandoned segregation for first-class customers, but segregated coaches remained for other passengers until 1956. After he chose not to stand for reelection in 1942, Mitchell was succeeded by William L. Dawson.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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  • Arthur W. Mitchell — Arthur Wergs Mitchell (December 22 1883 May 9 1968) was a U.S. Representative from Illinois. Mitchell was the first African American to be elected to the United States Congress as a Democrat.Mitchell was born near Lafayette, Alabama. He left home …   Wikipedia

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