The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Littleton Mitchell

Share on Social Media

Information about Littleton Mitchell

Profile image of Littleton Mitchell

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Branch Executive
Tuskegee Airman
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Tan
Favorite Food:
Three-Layer Yellow Cake
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Vermont
Favorite Quote:
A Man's Most Precious Possession Is His Integrity.

Birthplace

Born:
11/27/1918
Birth Location:
Milford, Delaware

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Branch Executive
Tuskegee Airman
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Tan
Favorite Food:
Three-Layer Yellow Cake
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Vermont
Favorite Quote:
A Man's Most Precious Possession Is His Integrity.

Birthplace

Born:
11/27/1918
Birth Location:
Milford
See how Littleton Mitchell is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Association branch executive, civil rights activist, and Tuskegee Airman Littleton Purnell Mitchell was born in the 1920s in Milford, Delaware, to Helen Ann Purnell and George Darnell Mitchell. His advocacy began at age thirteen, when he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the late 1930s, he attended Howard High School, the state’s only high school for African Americans. Upon graduation, he spent two years at West Chester University of Pennsylvania on a track scholarship before joining the Tuskegee Airmen during War World II. While he was there, he witnessed the building of the airfield at Tuskegee in 1941. He taught future pilots the art of instrument flying. His duties sent him to the Link Trainer Facilities and Schools in New York, and Chanute Field in Chanute, Illinois, as well as the Base Instrument Command Flying School in Texas. In February 1946, he was discharged from the U.S. Army. Encouraged by his fellow Tuskegee Airmen, Mitchell returned to college, and earned his degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and began a career in the psychiatric treatment of children and civil rights advocacy.

Mitchell led the Delaware State Branches of the NAACP as president for over thirty years until 1991. During his years there, he led their efforts to secure fair housing, equal access to public accommodations, and equal education and employment opportunities for Delaware’s African American community. He became the first African American teacher of white children at Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City. He retired from teaching in 1984. His wife, Jane Mitchell, now deceased, became one of Delaware’s first African American nurses. For many years, she served as the director of nursing at the Delaware State Hospital and along with her husband led efforts to desegregate the state’s hospitals.

Mitchell served on the Delaware Humanities Council from 1991 to 1997. In 1993, the University of Delaware awarded Mitchell its Medal of Merit for sustained community service. He was also awarded the Delaware Bar Association’s 2004 Liberty Bell Award for community service. For the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission, he served as a presidential appointee representing Delaware.

Mitchell resided in Delaware City, Delaware, with his family until his death on July 6, 2009.

Littleton Purnell Mitchell was interview by the HistoryMakers on December 19, 2005.

See how Littleton Mitchell is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Littleton Mitchell's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his father, Littleton Van Mitchell
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell describes his mother, Helen Purnell Mitchell
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell recounts his earliest memory of racism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell remembers an altercation with his mayor while growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon his early response to racism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Littleton Mitchell recalls his early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his trip to Spain, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his trip to Spain, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell describes Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his college aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell recalls his experience at West Chester State Teacher's College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his probation at West Chester State Teachers College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his favorite professor at West Chester State Teachers College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell remembers trying to enlist in the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Littleton Mitchell talks about his Native American ancestry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell remembers arriving at Tuskegee Army Airfield
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell remembers the racism of white U.S. Air Force instructors
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers his training in instrument flying
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell remembers fleeing Montgomery, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell describes racism in Alabama, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell describes racism in Alabama, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell recalls tense race relations in Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Littleton Mitchell remembers seeing poor treatment of migrant laborers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell remembers advocating for migrant laborers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell recalls his hiring at Delaware City's Governor Bacon Health Center
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers teaching at Delaware City's Governor Bacon Health Center
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell remembers taking leadership classes with the NAACP
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell remembers Wilmington, Delaware after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell describes his relationship with Governor Charles L. Terry, Jr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell remembers exposing Governor Charles L. Terry, Jr.'s racism
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Littleton Mitchell talks about fighting segregation in Delaware
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Littleton Mitchell remembers fighting for integrated hospitals in Delaware
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Littleton Mitchell remembers helping a migrant laborer
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Littleton Mitchell remembers rescuing a boy from a migrant labor camp
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Littleton Mitchell remembers fighting racist legislation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon the struggle for civil rights
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Littleton Mitchell explains how he likes to be identified
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Littleton Mitchell describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Littleton Mitchell reflects upon the importance of history