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WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) issued the following statement on the passing of former Congressman Parren J. Mitchell, Maryland’s first elected African American Member of Congress and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Hoyer and Mitchell served together in the House from 1981 to 1986.
“Yesterday, the people of Baltimore, our state, and indeed the entire nation, lost a visionary leader who dedicated his life to freedom, equality and social justice for all.
“Parren J. Mitchell was not just the first the African-American to be elected to Congress from Maryland, he was one of the most influential civil rights leaders of the last 50 years – and a man that would not rest until every single person in our nation had a fair shot at living the American Dream.
“Parren believed it was his responsibility to pick up where luminaries like Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., left off. When he came to Congress in 1970, the groundbreaking civil rights legislation of the 1960’s had already been signed into law. So, Parren took the next logical step and made the economic empowerment of America’s minority communities his mission throughout his eight terms.
“Parren’s work in Congress helped change the fortunes of America’s minority business community for decades to come. By working to ensure that a fair share of government contracts go to minority-owned enterprises, he opened doors of opportunity that were previously closed, and helped countless American families make the most of every chance to succeed.
“On this sad day, I would like to offer my condolences to the family and many friends of Parren J. Mitchell. He has left a strong legacy through his lifelong commitment to expanding the reach of equal opportunity throughout the United States.”