Black History Month: Golden Valley’s John Mitchell
In 1980, John Mitchell became the first African-American in Minnesota history to be part of a city council. He was also the first president of the Golden Valley Rotary Club and invited prominent African-Americans to Golden Valley during the month of February to share their stories. Mitchell passed away in 2009.
“In 1982, he began organizing Black History Month,” said Don Anderson from the Golden Valley Historical Society, “which was the first in the United States as we understand it.”
Back then, Mitchell invited high profile African-Americans to Golden Valley during the month of February so they could tell their stories.
“Pointing out the positive aspects of the black community,” Anderson said. “The positive things they have done through their inventions, literature, writings and occupations.”
Leaving a Tuesday Legacy
Mitchell worked for Honeywell and was on the city’s human rights commission. In 1972 he started the Golden Valley Rotary Club and was the inaugural president.
When Mitchell was first elected to the city council, they met on Monday nights. But that interfered with one of his passions.
“At his first meeting he said to the city council I love football on Monday night,” Anderson said. “I move we change the date to Tuesday.”
The council agreed and the meetings have been on Tuesdays ever since.