Did You Know Two Civil Rights Activists Were Born on This Day?

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This Day In History: March 8th

In addition to being staunch supporters of civil rights and alumni of Lincoln University, Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. and Walter R. Hundley also share the same birthday. The two advocates were born on March 8 and spent their careers crusading for racial equity.

Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. was born first in Baltimore on March 8, 1911. After graduating high school, Mitchell attended Lincoln University and began his career as a reporter with the Baltimore Afro-American. While working for the newspaper, Mitchell was able to witness racial inequality firsthand. He covered lynchings and testified in Congress to support anti-lynching legislation. 

Mitchell’s exposure to the realities of racism led him to devote his life to activism. In 1937, Mitchell became executive secretary of the Urban League in St. Paul, Minn before working with the National Full Employment and Practices Commission. In 1945, he became the first labor secretary of the NAACP and five years later he became head of the Washington office. During this time he became known within Congress and gained the nickname, “the 101st U.S. Senator.”

He pushed for an end to segregation and led campaigns on Capitol Hill to urge for the passage of civil rights legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1960, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act. Following his efforts on the activism front, Mitchell retired from the NAACP in 1978 and remained an active voice through his Sunday editorial column for the Baltimore Sun.

Clarence Mitchell Jr. has been honored with accolades such as a Medal of Freedom in 1980 and an NAACP Spingarn Medal (1991). He died on March 18, 1984. 

Fellow civil rights advocate Walter R. Hundley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1929. After finishing high school, Hundley attended Lincoln University with the help of his minister. He studied English and Philosophy while at Lincoln and graduated in 1950. His time at the university inspired his involvement in civil rights as well as divinity.

In 1953, Hundley graduated from Yale Divinity School. He relocated to Seattle, Washington the following year where he found work as a minister at the Church of the People. He also furthered his education during the 1960s and received a master’s in social work from the University of Washington. Hundley continued his work and developed a reputation as a respected community leader in Seattle.

Hundley served as chair of the Congress for Racial Equality and a member of the Central Area Civil Rights Committee. He led boycotts against Seattle Public Schools and promoted equal employment and housing opportunities. During the 1970s, he served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and in 1977 he was appointed Superintendent of the Department of Parks and Recreation. He held the role until his retirement in 1988.

Walter Hundley died on June 6, 2002.

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