The R.W. Norton Art Gallery >> Oral History Project               Search
 
Home About Participate Search Students FAQS FAQS
Image
0320-CIV-10/2006
Danny Mitchell
Civil Rights
Images
Audio Samples

Danny was born at Charity Hospital in Shreveport to Crabon Reed and Willie Mae Mitchell. He had several stepbrothers and sisters as children of both parents. Danny was living with his great aunt and uncle in Leesville, Louisiana, when his mother died "very young" of kidney failure. His grandmother raised him in a "three-room shotgun house without a bathtub." To earn money he caddied at a country club, and picked and chopped cotton on a nearby plantation. Danny recalls experiencing "a lot of racism" as a child. "I kind of went into a state of denial," he recalls. "This was a bad dream and `poof' I was going to wake up and it was going to be over." He remembers Shreveport in the 1960s as "a very dangerous place." Danny served in the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1968. On his way to his duty station in England, he was visiting family in Shreveport and wanted to swim in a local public pool. The police prevented him from doing so, but because of the incident, the pool later was opened to all. Danny entered the University of Maryland while in service, but completed his education later at Southern University. After his military service, he worked for Modern Clothing Store downtown, and later purchased the business, changing the name to Modern Fine Men's Clothing Store. He also opened The Jazz Workshop in 1970. By 1976, Danny received his call into the ministry. The church he founded with 23 members grew to "seven or eight hundred. Attempting to improve his gang-infested neighborhood, and to help solve other community problems, Reverend Mitchell ran for and won a seat as a state representative. He founded the After School Student Referral Program to help problem students. He served eight years in the house, suffering a heart attack in 1997 in his second term. Reverend Mitchell continued as pastor of his church during his tenure in the statehouse. He left Baton Rouge each Thursday for weekend church services in Shreveport. Divorced in 2000, he married Yvonne Moore on March 17, 2002. Together they have six children and ten grandchildren.