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George D. Mitchell Sr., property manager and member of African American political dynasty, dies

George Mitchell Sr. was involved in politics from the time he was 5 years old.
George Mitchell Sr. was involved in politics from the time he was 5 years old.

George D. Mitchell Sr., an active member of Baltimore’s African American political dynasty who was a champion of voter registration, died Monday at FutureCare Lochearn. The West Arlington resident was 68.

His wife, Gail Raquel Mitchell, said Mr. Mitchell died of complications of surgery.

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Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., the civil rights activist and NAACP lobbyist, and his wife, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, the first Black woman to practice law in Maryland. The family lived at 1324 Druid Hill Ave.

As a child, he handed out political campaign literature for Judge Harry A. Cole, then a Black candidate for the Maryland state Senate.

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“It was an exciting time,“ said his brother, Michael Bowen Mitchell, a former member of the Baltimore City Council. “Who could resist a cute 5-year-old handing out paper handbills?”

His nephew, Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a former state senator and WBAL radio host, said, “He was more than an uncle to me. He was my big brother. We were only 10 years apart. Within the extended Mitchell family, he was our home fixer. When something went wrong, we called George.”

Mr. Mitchell was the youngest of four brothers. Clarence Mitchell III went on to be a state senator. Keiffer Jackson Mitchell Sr. was a physician. Michael Bowen Mitchell is an attorney.

“George didn’t have the titles but did the hard work of getting people to vote,” said his brother, Michael. “In later years, when he rented an apartment, he made sure the tenant was registered to vote.”

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When he was 9 years old, his father handed him a counter-picket sign when Ku Klux Klan and Fighting American Nationalist members paraded down Druid Hill Avenue past their home. He also found the backyard garden hose and handed it to his father.

“My father gave the KKK a good baptism,” said Michael Mitchell.

Mr. Mitchell and his brothers were founding members of the Jackie Robinson Youth Council of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

He once carried a breakfast tray to Mr. Robinson when the ballplayer stayed at 1320 Eutaw Place, the home of Mr. Mitchell’s grandmother, Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson, organizer of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP.

He attended the Henry Garnet School and was a graduate of Boys’ Latin School, where he played varsity football for three years. He also studied martial arts with Riley Hawkins.

“The headmaster of Boys’ Latin called his mother said it was time the school was integrated and asked that she send George there,” said his wife.

“He was a big man even in high school and was a defensive lineman, a tackle,” said his nephew.

His father drove him to Boys’ Latin daily along with the sons of the Rev. Marion C. Bascom, who were also students at the North Baltimore school.

Mr. Mitchell attended Morgan State University.

“George was a part of the Mitchell platoon and a foot solder in freedom’s army,” said his brother, Michael. “He actively joined picket lines at Baltimore Gas and Electric to boost Black employment and at lines for Black females to be operators at the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co.”

His brother said he was a part of the desegregation effort at Sandy Point and Fort Smallwood parks.

“During the 1950s my mother used her children as plaintiffs against entities that were segregated,” said his brother.

Mr. Mitchell and his brothers would typically set up extra chairs at the Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church when national figures visited Baltimore. At times he met Julian Bond, Marion Barry, John Lewis and Olympic sprinter Wilma Rudolph.

He was also an active political campaigner for his uncle, U.S. Rep. Parren Mitchell. He distributed literature and erected signs.

“He was also musically inclined,” his brother said. “We were a close family and George had the best voice. He had an incredible tenor. He was recruited by my grandmother to sing at NAACP mass meetings at Sharp Street Memorial Church. He also played the trumpet.”

Mr. Mitchell went on to became a contractor and founded a business, George Mitchell and Son, when his son was born.

“George had a ubiquitous red truck with a 40-foot ladder attached. He was good in business,” his brother said. “He would mentor young men from Carver Vo-Tech in the building trades too.”

His wife said Mr. Mitchell became a property manager and home repairman for the West Baltimore properties owned by the Mitchell family. The rowhouses scattered along Stricker and McCulloh streets and Argyle, Myrtle and Lafayette avenues are known as the Upton Druid Apartments — 77 apartments in 29 buildings.

“He learned the property upkeep business from his grandfather, Keiffer Albert Jackson, who was from Mississippi. He followed his elder around and kept up houses,” said his wife.

His brother said, “My father and mother insisted that these Section 8 apartments in 1980 be air-conditioned. [Former Baltimore housing chief] Bob Embry and Mayor William Donald Schaefer were supportive of the apartments. He was also a genius at repairing cast iron boilers.”

Mr. Mitchell also served as a bailiff in Baltimore City Juvenile Court for a number of years.

In addition to his brother and wife, survivors include a son, George “Rocky” Mitchell; a daughter, Karla Rachel Mitchell; and a grandson, Kyle Avi Mitchell, all of Baltimore.

Plans for a funeral service are incomplete.

A previous version of this obituary misidentified Mr. Mitchell’s grandfather. He was Keiffer Albert Jackson.

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