Previously known as simply the “Art-Sociology Building”, Parren J. Mitchell’s name was added in October 2015 after a unanimous vote from the Board of Regents. Through these doors is space dedicated to the arts as well as the Art Library, and other departments such as the Department of Sociology. Though many students, faculty and visitors pass the building daily, many may not be aware of what Mitchell has contributed to the history of this campus and to the state of Maryland.
The Baltimore-native was born in 1922‒ a time where segregation continued to divide the country. At an early age, Mitchell’s family exposed him to the world of activism where he was introduced to the issues that black Americans faced around the state. After earning his bachelor’s, he then applied to UMD for a Masters in Sociology but was denied admission because of his race. In 1950, Baltimore City Court ordered his full-time admission, making him our campus’s first ever African American graduate student. If all of these achievements weren’t impressive enough, in 1970, he also became the first black Congressman to be elected from Maryland. Parren J. Mitchell’s ability to overcome adversity and to contribute back to society through improving race relations shows us all the ways that diversity works towards bettering our campus, and the nation.