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Higher Education in Maryland

April 2008 Press Release




Parren J. Mitchell scholarship signed by Governor O’Malley



Annapolis, MD (April 24, 2008)


A Maryland and American icon will be honored in death for what he accomplished in life after legislation was passed by the General Assembly April 4 and signed into law by Governor O’Malley today. Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr. worked tirelessly to make the bill’s passage successful.

Secretary Lyons and other MHEC officials joined Governor O’Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., House Speaker Michael E. Busch, bill sponsor Delegate Keith Haynes and two members of Parren Mitchell’s family -- nephew and former State Senator Michael Mitchell and great niece Micah.

The Parren J. Mitchell scholarship program allows the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) to award up to 10 Parren J. Mitchell scholarships each year to students who agree to work in public service after completing their studies. The scholarship will provide an overall total of $188,000 towards annual growth in the cost of tuition, fees, room and board for deserving students who receive this honor.

“Congressman Mitchell devoted his entire adult life to pubic service,” Secretary Lyons, said. “This is a great opportunity to ensure that his legacy remains intact. It is an honor for MHEC to be the body that awards these scholarships to students who want to pursue a field in public service. I applaud Delegate Haynes (D-Baltimore City) for introducing the bill and the more than 50 bi-partisan House members who are co-sponsoring this legislation.”

“Parren Mitchell was a leader in public service,” Delegate Haynes said. “Instead of naming a building after him, I felt it was better to name a scholarship in honor of all the great work he did for Marylanders so those who receive this scholarship will keep his memory alive. He literally gave his life to opening doors for others. A scholarship is a living tribute to his legacy by continuing to create opportunities and access to education for others.”

“The reason I supported this bill was that it was a way to honor a great man who I had tremendous respect for,” said Delegate Wade Kach (Baltimore County), a Republican co-sponsor of the bill. “He would see a problem and actually try to do something about it. He gave so many people so many opportunities.”

Mitchell, a graduate of Morgan State University, was a fighter for those who were shunned by society. He would do this through a historic Congressional career and even after he retired in 1987, he continued his public service endeavors until his death on May 28, 2007.

In 1950, Mitchell filed suit to compel the University of Maryland to enroll him as its first African-American graduate student. After completing a master’s degree in sociology, he returned to Morgan to teach. In the 1960s, he acted as the director of anti-poverty programs in Baltimore City.

In 1970, Mitchell became Maryland’s first African-American Congressman when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Among his notable achievements in the Congress were to guarantee minority-owned businesses access to government contracts. In 1980, he founded The Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges, universities and private career schools. It serves as an advocate for more than 325,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.

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