The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.

and of the NAACP Washington Bureau 1942 - 1978





Lion in the Lobby
Volumes I&II
Volume III
Volume IV
Volume V

Tables of Contents

Volumes I&II
Volume III
Volume IV
Volume V


Sample Documents I
Sample Documents II
Sample Documents III
Sample Docs III Cont..

Sample Documents IV

Sample Documents V


Mitchell A Profile
Project Scope
Mitchell's Reports


Prof. Denton L. Watson

About Prof. Watson
About Us
Contact Us


Contact Us

One of my first experiences on the importance of the First Amendment came during the Depression in the 1930s when I witnessed a demonstration by some of the leading white ladies in Baltimore against the mistreatment of welfare clients.

            It was unforgettable to see these high-minded, neatly dressed, and purposeful people hoist their picket signs, form their line, and begin marching in front of the welfare office building. Soon, the police escorted them to a waiting patrol wagon. The door closed behind them, and they were taken off to the police station. Picketing was then unlawful in Maryland.

            Many years later, I drove past a police station in the same city where a number of patrolmen in uniform were picketing over unsettled grievances. One sign said, IF YOU SUPPORT OUR EFFORT, HONK YOUR HORN. I honked my car horn. A protester who was white turned and, as an expression of appreciation, raised a clenched fist in the black power salute that became popular in the 1960s. Although I do not favor code words or signals that have implications of color, I was pleased to see the picket line. It showed that in the years between the thirties and the seventies, at least some people in the law enforcement field have learned that the Constitution of the United States touches their daily lives and is their best shield against unjust treatment.

            The forty-plus years between those two scenes represent the primary period of my life’s work to make the Constitution a meaningful document for all people. I began this job by, first, trying to make the executive branch of government work properly. We needed not only just laws but also right national policies. Second, we had to get Congress to enact laws for the protection of our rights. Third, we had to make sure that these laws were properly enforced. Without enforcement, it would not have been worth getting the laws in the first place.

            Even in the darkest period of America’s history, when lynch mobs ran rampant throughout many parts of the country killing and maiming black men, women, and children, my faith in the democratic process as a means for achieving freedom and equality for all has never waned. I have spent most of my life hoping for and working for the right of all men to share in the blessing of our Constitution. I, too, am a law and order man. I am a man who has sought the kind of order that makes freedom grow instead of stifling it.

            As a people whose society is governed by the rule of law, Americans have over the years developed various processes and institutions for bringing pressure on the system to achieve change. It took black Americans many painful attempts to develop their own institutions that could provide the cohesive framework for developing the strategies that were required to bring sufficient pressure on all three branches of government to win the enactment of the civil rights laws. One of the main institutions is the NAACP. As director of the NAACP Washington Bureau, I proudly served as an instrument in this process.

            Now as I look back at the history of the fight we have been waging, I feel a sense of inspiration because I am privileged to live in a time when we have gotten all three branches of our national government to work for civil rights.

            The NAACP, of course, could not have won these great victories by itself. On the Supreme Court, we had Chief Just Earl Warren. In Congress we had the Charles Mathiases, the Joseph Tydings, the Hugh Scotts, the Hubert Humphreys, and a host of other staunch supporters and lukewarm allies. There were also many bitter foes like the James Eastlands, the Strom Thurmonds, and the Samuel Ervins. Nevertheless, we did win enactment of the most comprehensive set of civil laws this nation has ever known. In the process, we were able to bring about one of history’s greatest social revolutions in a peaceful manner. How this fundamental change in social and institutional attitude was accomplished is the story I plan to tell.

                                                                                   Clarence Mitchell, Jr.

Mitchell had prepared this introduction for a book after his retirement from the NAACP in 1978, but he never told his story himself. Instead, he entrusted his biographer, Denton L. Watson, with the responsibility. See Lion in the Lobby, Clarence Mitchell, Jr.’s Struggle for the Passage of Civil Rights Laws.

The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr.

Project Director/Editor: Prof. Denton L. Watson

Address: SUNY College at Old Westbury, Campus Center E-215, P.O. Box 210,

    223 Store Hill Road, Old Westbury, New York 11568-0210.

Phone: 516-876-2885; Fax: 516-876-2887


Publisher: Ohio University Press, The Ridges, Building 19, Athens, OH 45701-2979

Sponsor: SUNY College at Old Westbury

Funded by: National Historical Publications and Records Commission; The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation


President Johnson and 101st Senator


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NAACP Testimonies

1916 - 1949
1950 - 1954
1955 - 1957
1958 - 1960



"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's Page

    Randolph with Eleanor Roosevelt