So legendary was Clarence Mitchell, Jr., as a civil rights lobbyist in Congress that he was popularly called the “101st senator.” He led the NAACP’s struggle for passage of the civil rights laws and adoption of constructive national policies for the protection of the civil rights of African Americans by the executive branch. This struggle was rooted in the egalitarian philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and shaped by reason and carefully documented factual evidence. The core documents pertaining to the legislative struggle, approximately 45,000 occupying 83.2 linear feet of shelf space, are in the NAACP Washington Bureau collection at the Library of Congress. They, as well as Mitchell’s personal papers held by his family and others that were collected by this author were used in the biography, Lion in the Lobby, Clarence Mitchell, Jr.’s Struggle for the Passage of Civil Rights Laws. It was first published by William Morrow and Company in 1990 and reissued by University Press of America in 2003. No comparable collection documenting the struggle for the civil rights laws exists in any other place. The papers document how the NAACP worked within the government to obtain passage of the civil rights laws. They provide the most detailed record of Mitchell’s success in getting the Legislative Branch to join the Judicial and Executive branches to provide protections for civil rights. The Papers of Clarence Mitchell, Jr., project is publishing the weekly, monthly and annual reports prepared by Mitchell from 1942 to 1978. The other five categories in his collection are his memoranda, letters and telegrams, congressional testimonies, speeches, and newspaper columns and scholarly articles.
Mitchell at his farewell breakfast in 1978 with Republican Senators Charles McC. Mathias and Bob Dole
His Views of the
Mitchell explained there were three basic areas in which groups such as the NAACP make contributions to legislative activities:
1. Mobilizing public opinion and public support for broad national and international programs that would benefit the country.
2. Building a more informed electorate by providing information on important issues and on where members of Congress stood on them
3. Assisting members of Congress in promoting good legislation, defeating bad ones, and strengthening others with amendments or clarifying the intent of Congress.
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"I suggest that Ten Thousand Negroes march on Washington, D.C. with the slogan ..." A. Philip Randolph, Father of the modern civil rights movement
Randolph with Eleanor