Friday, December 11, 2020

Charter Day: Celebrating Edward Mitchell

Student petition to admit Edward Mitchell
Charter Day is upon us marking the start of Dartmouth's 252nd year. It is a good occasion to take a look back at Dartmouth's history for other formative moments. This year, let's celebrate Edward Mitchell. In 1824, Mitchell applied to Dartmouth with all of the standard qualifications the College demanded at the time; he had all the necessary letters of recommendation; he passed his entrance exams; and he was even friends with the family of former Dartmouth President Francis Brown. The faculty, recognizing his merits, accepted him, but the Board of Trustees intervened and denied him admission: they balked because Mitchell was Black

Enter the students! As word spread of Mitchell's denial of admission, the students prepared a petition and submitted it to the Board of Trustees. The Board reversed its decision, and Mitchell became the first African American admitted to any of the institutions that would one day become the Ivy League. Mitchell graduated in 1828 and later became an ordained minister. For more of his story, listen to the "Opinions of Diversity" podcast episode written and narrated by Julia Logan. You can see the petition by asking for MS 824525.