Arthur Wergs Mitchell
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|Arthur W. Mitchell|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Illinois's 1st district
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1943
|Preceded by||Oscar S. De Priest|
|Succeeded by||William L. Dawson|
December 22, 1883|
near Lafayette, Alabama
May 9, 1968 (aged 84)|
|Political party||Republican (Until 1935) Democrat (After 1935)|
Arthur Wergs Mitchell (December 22, 1883 – May 9, 1968) was a U.S. Representative from Illinois. For his entire congressional career from 1935 to 1943, he was the only African American in Congress. Mitchell was the first African American to be elected to the United States Congress as a Democrat -- he replaced Oscar De Priest, a Republican.
Mitchell was born near Lafayette, Alabama. He left home at 14 to go to the Tuskegee Institute. He worked on a farm and as an office boy to Booker T. Washington while attending the Institute. Mitchell attended Columbia University briefly and qualified for the bar. He then moved to Chicago, Illinois and began to work for the Republican Party. Mitchell switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party in 1932 after finding that his views on issues aligned himself closer to the Democrats. He was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and served as its 6th International President from 1926-1934.
Mitchell was elected to the House of Representatives in 1934, defeating African American congressman Oscar De Priest, who was a Republican. Mitchell introduced bills banning lynching and against discrimination. He filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Central and Rock Island Railroads after he was forced into a segregated train car just before it passed into Arkansas. Mitchell's suit was advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court as case Mitchell v. United States, which ruled that the railroad violated the Interstate Commerce Act. He voluntarily chose not to seek re-election in 1942.
- List of African-American firsts
- List of African-American United States Representatives
- List of Phi Beta Sigma brothers
- 313 U.S. 80 (1941)
- United States Congress. "Arthur Wergs Mitchell (id: M000805)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Barnes, Catherine A. (1983). Journey From Jim Crow: The Desegregation of Southern Transit. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231053808.
- "Arthur Wergs Mitchell, 1883-1968". Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 (PDF). United States Government Printing Office. 2008. pp. 286–291. ISBN 9780160801945.
- Nordin, Dennis Sven (September 18, 2007). "Arthur Wergs Mitchell". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. Auburn University, University of Alabama, Alabama State Department of Education. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
- Nordin, Dennis Sven (1997). The New Deal's Black Congressman: A Life of Arthur Wergs Mitchell. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 9780826211026.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
Oscar S. De Priest
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 1st congressional district
William L. Dawson