in charge, Parren Mitchell suffers money woes
Frail ex-congressman being sued by creditors, owes
$100,000 to Keswick
Walter F. Roche Jr. and Ivan Penn
published Sun, May 31, 2002
and slowed by strokes, former Rep. Parren J. Mitchell has spent
the past three years at the Keswick Multi-Care Center in Roland
Park, leaving his financial affairs in the hands of his nephew,
Michael B. Mitchell Sr.
Mitchell's assets include a $60,000-a-year congressional pension
and a trust that holds title to his West Baltimore home.
Parren Mitchell's bills - including more than $100,000 owed to
Keswick - have gone unpaid by Michael Mitchell, a former city
councilman and former state senator who was disbarred for
stealing from a client. Michael Mitchell, who has power of
attorney for his uncle, has instead used his uncle's assets to
help pay expenses related to a Pigtown bar he helps run and to
buy a car that his uncle said he knew nothing about.
in his room at Keswick, with a health care worker at his side,
Parren Mitchell, 80, said that he had entrusted all of his
finances to his nephew Michael and said he was certain his bills
were being paid.
[Michael] takes care of everything for me," the former
congressman said, adding that he trusts his nephew to look out
for his interests.
evidence indicates otherwise.
his assets, Parren Mitchell has been hit with state and federal
tax liens of $25,532.
Parren Mitchell said in an interview that he did not know that a
car was bought in his name by his nephew Michael, the retired
congressman is being sued by the General Motors Acceptance Corp
for the $16,004.97 still owed on the car, including interest and
board member at the nursing home where Parren Mitchell is a
patient says nothing has been paid for the former congressman's
care since he was admitted more than three years ago.
very concerned about it because he was a very good
congressman," said Keswick board member Lionel Fulz.
very sick. We're doing everything we can to keep him
comfortable," Fulz said. "There's no way we would put
as Mitchell's bill continues to grow, Keswick is feeling the
a nonprofit institution," Fulz said. "Any unpaid bill
takes away from our ability to help others."
B. Nolley Jr., chairman of Keswick's board, declined to comment
about Mitchell's case because of patient confidentiality. But
Nolley said no one is in danger of being evicted for overdue
would never discharge a resident for lack of payment,"
Mitchell declined repeated requests yesterday for an interview.
apparently close, Parren and Michael Mitchell have led sharply
Mitchell is a man of many firsts. He was the University of
Maryland's first black graduate student, an honor he earned
after suing the school to gain admission.
Mitchell became the first African-American from Maryland elected
to Congress, serving from 1971 to 1986. His victory made him the
first African-American since 1898 elected to Congress from a
state south of the Mason-Dixon line.
the time he had retired from Congress in 1986, Parren Mitchell
was looked to as an elder statesman, and he had amassed more
than 3,000 awards and 14 honorary degrees.
B. Mitchell Sr., 56, once considered a rising star in city and
state politics, was elected to the Baltimore City Council in
1975, when he was 29. By 1980 he was being touted as a possible
mayoral candidate. But his political rise stopped short later
Mitchell served less than a year in the Maryland Senate before
he was sentenced in 1987 to federal prison. He was convicted on
charges that he attempted to obstruct a federal investigation of
the Wedtech Corp., a Bronx, N.Y.-based defense contractor.
won $100 million in defense contracts under a minority set-aside
program that Parren Mitchell had helped create. Though Michael
Mitchell and his older brother, Clarence M. Mitchell III,
collected $50,000 to halt the congressional probe, Parren
Mitchell pressed ahead with the investigation, unaware of his
Mitchell also was convicted in state court in 1988 of stealing
$77,417 in insurance money from a 3-year-old son of a murder
victim - money he has yet to repay. As part of his sentence in
that case, Michael Mitchell was disbarred.
Mitchell, whose personal finances have never been previously
questioned, has long been viewed as a man of honor and
just don't see great leaders like I saw in him anymore,"
said state Del. Talmadge Branch, a special assistant to Parren
Mitchell when he was in Congress.
V. Haysbert, former head of the Parks Sausage company, described
the ex-congressman as "a hero and an icon to the total
said he was surprised to hear that Parren Mitchell was having
just bewildered how this thing could happen," Haysbert
said. "If there was no income, the whole community,
including me, would chip in."
Mitchell said he was unaware of any of the cases against him,
adding that he has complete faith in his nephew's ability to
handle his financial affairs and pay his bills. His primary
income includes an annual congressional pension estimated by the
National Taxpayers Union at $60,070.
land records show that the financial relationship between the
former congressman and his nephew dates back several years. In
1996, Parren Mitchell transferred the deed to his house at 828
N. Carrollton Ave. to a newly created trust. The trustees were
Parren himself and Michael Mitchell.
September 1999, the state filed a lien against the former
congressman for a tax debt that totals $7,239.93, according to
the state comptroller's office. And this year, the Internal
Revenue Service filed a lien totaling $18,292.43 for unpaid
federal taxes dating to 1995.
filed suit this year. In the complaint, attorneys for the credit
company state that the 1998 Buick was purchased on Parren
Mitchell's behalf on April 20, 1999, with Michael Mitchell
signing under a power of attorney.
Mitchell also signed a loan document on Parren Mitchell's behalf
that called for payments totaling $23,163 over a 60-month
to court records, $13,413 remains due on the note.
an April 4, 2001, letter to Parren Mitchell sent in care of his
nephew, a GMAC official wrote that "the account is
seriously past due."
has been brought to our attention," the letter continues,
"that the above vehicle was in an accident on Dec. 12,
2000. We have inspected the vehicle ... and the damages are
extensive. We have been advised that there was no insurance in
effect at the time of the accident."
in the file is a copy of the accident report showing that
Michael Mitchell was driving the car when it ran into the rear
of a truck from South Carolina on Ritchie Highway at 2:43 a.m.
on Dec. 12, 2000
records show that Michael Mitchell was charged on the same day
with negligent driving but was later found not guilty.
Michael Mitchell continues to sink deeper into debt, with tens
of thousands of dollars in unpaid state and federal taxes and
hundreds of thousands of dollars in judgments for money due
creditors, including mortgage payments on his home, which is
facing foreclosure, according to court records.
Mitchell's personal debts, some of them dating to before he went
to prison, are substantially larger than those of his uncle.
State tax liens total $73,312.56, and federal tax liens total
$219,981.97 plus interest.
debts have continued to pile up even though Michael Mitchell has
been a full time employee of the Maryland Transportation
Authority since July 1, 1999. He draws an annual salary of
$40,575. He is listed as a coordinator for a program called
Managing For Results.
also runs a business on the side - a Pigtown bar, called the
Short Stop - that neighbors want closed because of shootings and
constant public disturbances, according to the city liquor
say that Michael Mitchell has used his uncle's checking account
to pay expenses related to the bar at 1415 Washington Blvd.
Michael Mitchell is not listed as an owner of the bar, his name
appears several times in records at the city liquor board and
other city agencies, including the Health Department, as a
handwritten notation on a document relating to the bar dated
Dec. 13 at the health agency states, "Business is being
bought by Michael Mitchell." Other city records list
Michael Mitchell as a contact person or "business
manager" for the bar. His name appears as a director in
incorporation papers for Savannah Inc., one of the corporate
names used by the west-side pub.
state liquor laws, convicted felons are not allowed to have an
ownership interest in licensed establishments.
in his room at Keswick, Parren Mitchell expressed confidence
Wednesday that his nephew is properly handling his financial
he said that he did not know about the car, Parren Mitchell said
he was "glad" that his nephew had bought a car for
him. He appeared surprised to hear that bills in his name have
been going unpaid, but said he was feeling well and was well
taken care of.
sat quietly in his chair amid a tangle of tubes as one of the
round-the-clock aides assigned to his care looked on. Fresh
flowers brightened a nearby window sill.
too nice out there to be inside," said Mitchell looking
toward the window. He said he hadn't been able to get out
recently, "but I hope to soon."
* * * *
leaders setting up fund to help Parren Mitchell with debts
taxes rise to $140,000 as nephew runs finances
Ivan Penn and Walter F. Roche Jr.
published Sun June 1, 2002
community leaders pledged yesterday to create a fund to help
former Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, who has fallen more than
$140,000 in debt while his nephew Michael B. Mitchell has
handled his finances.
am absolutely devastated by the news," said NAACP President
Kweisi Mfume, who succeeded Mitchell as the congressman
representing Maryland's 7th District. "Without laying
blame, for a lot of us the question is: What can we do to help?
No one that has known or worked with him would want his name
besmirched by debt."
V. Haysbert, a Baltimore businessman and former head of Parks
Sausage, said he plans to meet with Mfume and form a committee
to establish the fund for Parren Mitchell, a civil rights
community is totally devastated at the plight of our
congressman, and the immediate reaction is to form a committee
to make sure he is protected," Haysbert said.
Mitchell's finances are overseen by his nephew, Michael B.
Mitchell, a former city councilman and state senator. An article
in The Sun yesterday showed Michael Mitchell, who has power of
attorney for his 80-year-old uncle, failed to pay at least
$100,000 in bills at the Keswick Multi-Care Center in Roland
Park. Instead, Michael Mitchell used some of his uncle's money
for personal expenses, including a car and a bar he helps run.
Mitchell's debts total more than $140,000 and include unpaid
state and federal taxes.
Mitchell, Maryland's first African-American congressman, said he
was unaware that he had any unpaid debts because his nephew
"takes care of everything for me." Michael Mitchell's
debts total hundreds of thousands of dollars. His control of his
uncle's finances includes a $60,000-a-year congressional pension
and a trust that holds title to Parren Mitchell's West Baltimore
Mitchell declined repeated requests for an interview about his
handling of his uncle's affairs. But in yesterday's edition of
The Baltimore Afro-American, he criticized The Sun, saying
reporters who spoke with his uncle should have sought the
family's approval first. He did not discuss his uncle's unpaid
bills or his handling of his uncle's accounts.
M. Mitchell III, a former state senator and Michael Mitchell's
brother, said on the Larry Young Show on WOLB radio yesterday
that "a full statement will be put together. We will
statement is expected to be made on the Larry Young Show early
the show yesterday, Clarence Mitchell called The Sun's article
"scurrilous and inaccurate." He said his brother
ensured that their uncle was well taken care of: "Parren is
still alive today because of Michael.
Mitchell has been at Keswick since early 1999, when he was
admitted after suffering several strokes. But a board member at
the nonprofit nursing home said no payments had been made since
he had been admitted.
Mitchell said on the radio show that the Mitchell family planned
to meet with Keswick yesterday.
Baldwin, an attorney for Keswick, said nursing home officials
had no comment because of confidentiality requirements.
addition to the bills at Keswick, Parren Mitchell has been sued
by the General Motors Acceptance Corp. for $16,000 owed on a car
that was bought in his name without his knowledge by Michael
Mitchell. GMAC filed the lawsuit after Michael Mitchell had an
accident in the car and failed to make the remaining payments.
the state and federal governments have filed liens against
Parren Mitchell for $25,532 in unpaid taxes. The liens were
filed after he went into Keswick.
Mitchell has long had financial troubles. He was disbarred for
stealing from the 3-year-old son of a murder victim. He has
state and federal tax liens of almost $300,000, and a
foreclosure is filed against his home, among other debts that
add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Baltimore Sun 2002
* * * *
Mitchell Bio Chronology
1922 (April 29) -- Born in
Baltimore to Clarence M. Mitchell Sr. and Elsie Davis Mitchell.
His father was a waiter at the Rennert Hotel in downtown
1933 -- His brother Clarence
returned home from Somerset County, where a black man had been
1940 -- Graduated from Frederick
Douglass High School and then served in the Army during World
War II, winning a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Italy.
1950 -- Earned a Bachelor of Arts
degree from Morgan State College. Filed suit to compel the
University of Maryland to enroll him as its first Black graduate
1952 -- Received M.A. degree in
sociology from the University of Maryland and returned to teach
at Morgan State.
1954 – 1957 -- Supervisor of
probation work for the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City
1963 - 1965 -- Executive director of
the Maryland Human Relations Commission in the Tawes
1965 – 1968 -- Selected by Mayor
McKeldin as executive director of the Baltimore Community Action
Agency (CAA), the local arm of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War
on Poverty. The link between the militant civil rights groups
and the city administration according to the Sun newspaper
during three days and four nights of violence that was quelled
after thousands of Army and National Guard troops were sent into
Resigned as head of the CAA in July 1968,
complaining that Mayor D'Alesandro had assigned him a
subordinate role in the anti-poverty effort, a step the mayor
blamed on federal government dictates.
1968 -- Rejoined the Morgan State
faculty and made his first run for Congress, a bid to unseat
Samuel N. Friedel, who had represented the heavily Jewish and
Democratic 7th District since 1953. In the Democratic
primary, received 15,000 votes, falling 5,500 short of Mr.
Friedel. Political experts were impressed.
1970 -- Defeated Mr. Friedel by 38
votes in the 40 percent black district as a third major
candidate, a Jewish state senator, drained away votes from the
popular incumbent. Became Maryland's first Black Congressman to
the first of his eight terms in Congress. Reelected to seven
succeeding Congresses from the 7th District through 1987.
1976 -- Attached to President
Carter's $4 billion Public Works Bill an amendment that
compelled state, county and municipal governments seeking
federal grants to set aside 10 percent of the money to retain
minority firms as contractors, subcontractors; $625 million
(15%) going to legitimate minority firms.
1976 -- Introduced the legislation
which became Public Law 95-507, that requires proposals from
contractors to spell out their goals for awarding contracts to
minority subcontractors. This law potentially provides access to
billions of dollars for minority businesses. His amendment
Appeared on the cover of Black Enterprise
magazine feature listing Mitchell among the 100 most influential
1980 -- Founded The Minority
Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. ("MBELDEF")
and presently serves as Chairman of the Board.
1982 -- Amended the $71 billion
Surface Transportation Assistance Act which required a 10 percent
set-aside for disadvantaged businesses.
1984 -- Clarence Mitchell
1985 – Announced, at age 63, he
would not seek re-election for a ninth term in Congress.
1987 -- Nephews Clarence M. Mitchell III and Michael B. Mitchell were convicted in federal court in
of accepting $50,000 from Wedtech to obstruct an investigation
of the company by the House Small Business Committee, which
Representative Mitchell headed
1989 – Gave speech
at a Baltimore
teachers union observance of Dr. King's birthday and stated "If
you believe in fighting racism, you make a commitment for the
rest of your life."
2007 (Monday, May 28) at the
age of 85, passed away. On 5 June more than
1,000 people paid their last respects to the Congressman at the
St. James' Episcopal Church in West Baltimore
* * *
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost
* * *
Becoming American Under Fire
Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship
During the Civil War Era
By Christian G. Samito
In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. . . . For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race. For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad. / For Love of Liberty
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *