Littleton P. Mitchell, civil rights hero

Lit and my father were best friends. In fact, my father introduced Lit to his wife, Jane. I am simply a person who benefited from a lot of his efforts. As president of the NAACP in Delaware for 30 years, from 1961 till 1991, Lit worked tirelessly for equal rights. He worked for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and he worked with his good friend Lou Redding, fighting the big civil rights battles and working on issues like open housing. He was the first black employee of Governor Bacon Health Center, and when he started teaching swimming there, he couldn’t even get in the pool with the white kids. He prodded and poked and pushed and got things done. He could drive a government official or a corporate head crazy, but people respected his tenacity, and they loved him. He was never in it for himself, and he was very proud of the accomplishments of all African-Americans. I’ll never forget taking him around to meet some of the black officials of the courts. He said to me, “I never thought I’d live to see the day.” It was the most heartwarming thing you’d ever seen. He loved being head of the NAACP. He thought it was his duty. Service to the public above self—that was his legacy. Without Lit, we wouldn’t have done half as much. In his absence, we won’t go half as far. 

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