Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage


Jane Mitchell, Courtesy of University of Delaware

Jane Evelyn Mitchell (Watson) (1921-2004) Mrs. Mitchell graduated from Howard High School Provident Hospital Nursing Program and the University of Delaware. She later earned a Master’s degree from Washington College. One of Delaware’s first African American nurses, Mrs. Mitchell’s entire career was spent at the Delaware Psychiatric Hospital, where she ultimately rose to director of Nursing Services. Her service to the profession included vice president of the Delaware Nurses Association and president of the Delaware State Board of Nursing.


Mrs. Mitchell’s community service included volunteering with AARP, the American Cancer Society, Meals on Wheels and the Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, a community health center located in Wilmington. She was an NAACP member as well as a member of the National Nursing Honor Society, Sigma Theta Tau. Her awards include the UD Medal of Merit and the NAACP Unsung Heroine Award. Mrs. Mitchell also is a member of the Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame.

 

Littleton Mitchell, Courtesy of University of Delaware

Littleton P. Mitchell (1918-2009) – A Delaware native, Mr. Mitchell attended Milford Colored School, and he graduated from Howard High School and later from West Chester State College (later West Chester University). His enrollment at West Chester State was interrupted when he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps during World War II. As a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, he was an instructor for instrument simulator training at Tuskegee Army Air Base.

While in the Army Air Corps, Mr. Mitchell married his high school sweetheart in 1943. Honorably discharged from active duty in 1946, the Mitchells returned to Delaware. Mr. Mitchell then completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education at West Chester State College. The Mitchells lived in Delaware City, where they raised their only child, Philip, and where Mr. Mitchell spent his entire career as a teacher and counselor at the Governor Bacon Health Center, a facility for emotionally troubled youth. At the Governor Bacon Center, Mr. Mitchell became the first African American in Delaware to teach white students.

Mr. Mitchell’s association with the NAACP began at the age of twelve with his involvement with the Milford, Delaware Branch of the national organization. It was instigated by witnessing the squalid living conditions of migrant laborers in the state. He joined the NAACP’s Wilmington Branch as a teenager, ultimately becoming president of the Delaware State Branch in 1961; a position he held for thirty years.

This position not only provided a ground-level view of the Civil Rights Movement, it also enabled Mr. Mitchell to undertake efforts to secure equal rights for blacks and other disenfranchised Delawareans. His work focused on fair housing, school desegregation, voting rights and growing educational and employment opportunities for African Americans. He worked closely and tirelessly alongside his friend and colleague, Louis L. Redding, the noted Delaware civil rights attorney, on resolving the pressing issues of those tumultuous times.

Littleton Mitchell also gave of himself to numerous local, state and national organizations. For his professional accomplishments and for his volunteer service, Mr. Mitchell received numerous awards, including the West Chester University President’s Medallion for Service; the Congressional Medal for service as a Tuskegee Airman; Delaware State Education Association Humanities and Civil Rights Award; and the Delaware Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award.

 

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