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Dr. Keiffer Mitchell

Born in Baltimore on November 4, 1941, Dr. Keiffer J. Mitchell, Sr. was born into a family that was well known and respected in Baltimore's African American community. The grandson of Lillie Jackson, one of Baltimore's prominent leaders in the 1930s and 1940s, Mitchell had an equally impressive parentage. His father, Clarence Mitchell, became known as the "101st senator" for his political influence as a civil rights adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Mitchell's mother, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, was an NAACP activist. In childhood, Mitchell walked picket lines with his father during the civil rights movement.

Mitchell graduated from Baltimore City College High School in 1959. He attended Morgan State University before transferring to Lincoln State College, where he received his B.A. in 1963. As a child, Mitchell had been an artist, but in high school he developed an interest in the sciences. His fascination with the sciences led him to medicine and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where he earned his M.D. He went on to practice medicine, specializing as a gastrointestinal surgeon.

With activism in his blood, Mitchell added his own chapter to his family's proud history by fighting to ensure equal access to healthcare to Baltimore's African American community. He made this his lifelong passion. His son, Keiffer Mitchell, Jr., a teacher and city councilman in Baltimore, entered the political arena as a rising star in the state Democratic Party.

Mitchell resided in Baltimore until he passed away on August 18, 2015.

Accession Number

A2003.244

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/10/2003

Last Name

Mitchell

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Henry Highland Garnet Elementary School

Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts

Gwynns Falls Junior High School

Baltimore City College

Morgan State University

Lincoln University

Meharry Medical College

First Name

Keiffer

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

MIT01

Favorite Season

None

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/4/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

8/18/2015

Short Description

Gastrointestinal surgeon Dr. Keiffer Mitchell (1941 - 2015 ) specializes in gastrointestinal surgery and is a healthcare advocate in Baltimore. Mitchell is the grandson of Lillie Jackson, one of Baltimore's prominent leaders in the 1930s.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Keiffer Mitchell interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Keiffer Mitchell recalls his mother's date and place of birth

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Keiffer Mitchell details his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Keiffer Mitchell shares his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Keiffer Mitchell describes his mother and her work for the NAACP

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Keiffer Mitchell discusses his father's life

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Keiffer Mitchell shares childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Keiffer Mitchell recounts attending a newly-integrated school

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Keiffer Mitchell compares his experiences at segregated and newly-integrated middle schools

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Keiffer Mitchell discusses block busting Baltimore neighborhoods that resisted integration

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Keiffer Mitchell recalls the experience of integrating an all-white school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Keiffer Mitchell lists notable African Americans from his neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Keiffer Mitchell reflects on his high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Keiffer Mitchell recounts his college years, including his Civil Rights Movement participation

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Keiffer Mitchell remembers his medical school years

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Keiffer Mitchell recalls his medical school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Keiffer Mitchell discusses his grandmother's influence on his values

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Keiffer Mitchell discusses health problems related to race

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Keiffer Mitchell cites problematic dietary habits that affect health

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Keiffer Mitchell discusses race related health issues

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Keiffer Mitchell reflects on his life and career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Photo - Keiffer Mitchell's father, Clarence Mitchell, with Dorothy Height, A. Phillip Randolph, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Lyndon B. Johnson discuss the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, ca. 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Photo - Keiffer Mitchell's father, Clarence Mitchell, and mother, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, ca. 1982

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Photo - Keiffer Mitchell, Baltimore, Maryland, 1972

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Photo - Joseph Rauh, Lyndon Johnson and unidentified man, ca. 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Photo - Joseph Keiffer with one of his paintings, Baltimore, Maryland, 1984

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Photo - A painting by Keiffer Mitchell, 1994

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

8$2

DATitle
Keiffer Mitchell discusses his grandmother's influence on his values
Keiffer Mitchell recalls the experience of integrating an all-white school
Transcript
Did you have an idea that those [gastrointestinal] problems were not being addressed in the black community basically?$$Yes.$$All right. Okay. Are there any particular problems--gastrointestinal problems that black people have that would--?$$No. Disease is not unique to race. But my grandmother Lillie M. Jackson--who directed the Baltimore [Maryland] branch of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] for thirty-five years who was instrumental in stripping apartheid of the hiring practices of the city, ensuring that teachers would get equal salary, and hiring the first black policemen, the first black fireman, instituting black cabdrivers, instituting black gas and electric company employees--had always admonished us growing up that you had to be aware of your contribution to society. One of her favorite witticisms was, "They may foreclose on your mortgage. They may repossess your car. But they can never take away a first class education." So she insisted on academic excellence. Once you had attained that, she also insisted that you give back to the community. And so she admonished all of us that service to people is the rent you pay for your space on earth. And as long as you remain a part of the people, you'll be successful. If you feel that you are above the people, you won't be successful. And that advice influenced where I located my practice in a section of the city with the greatest need and became very successful in my practice based on my grandmother's principles. And that simply said, if you had a profes--if you have a profession, you can't isolate your services from people. You have to go where the people are. And you will be very successful economically. You choose otherwise and more affluent surrounds, you won't be as successful. Very practical advice.$You're basically then sustained by your family and this sense of conviction, you know, from your family that you ought to stick out this junior high school experience [Gwynns Falls Junior High School, Baltimore, Maryland] which was a, you know, it was a great opportunity. But it wasn't very pleasant. Did it ever get any better? I mean after it, I mean--?$$Toward the end of my last year. Okay. And it became somewhat better.$$Okay. All right.$$But the nurturing and the experience the materials that were involved in the art department enabled me to win a citywide art contest with a painting that depicted waiting passengers in a train station. And my mother pointed out to me what the crux of the issue was in terms of the damaging aspect of segregation that decided the 1954 Supreme Court decision [Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas]. All of the people in the station that I painted had white faces. And [psychologist, civil rights activist] Kenneth Clark used that argument in terms of the damaging aspect of segregation in his doll experiment. And that showed the psychological impact. And Charles Houston who was the Dean of Howard University--Howard University Law School [Washington, D.C.] who met regularly in my home with my parents [Clarence Murice Mitchell, Jr. and Juanita Elizabeth Mitchell Jackson] , formulating the strategy for the desegregation educationally in Baltimore, utilized that argument to successfully desegregate Baltimore school systems, in an afternoon. Which had taken the national effort many, many years to implement, at the Supreme Court level.