A building on University of Maryland’s College Park campus has been named in honor of the late Parren Mitchell, the first African-American elected to Congress from Maryland.

University officials said the recently renamed Arts-Sociology Building pays tribute to Mitchell, who was a graduate of Morgan State University in Baltimore and earned a Purple Heart while serving in the Army during World War II.

Mitchell, who died in 2007 at age 85, applied to the graduate program in sociology at the University of Maryland, but was initially denied admission due to his race. A lawsuit he filed in 1950 resulted in a judge ordering his admission.

“It’s fitting and ironic, he had to sue the University of Maryland to open the grad school, now that they’re naming the sociology building after him,” Mitchell’s great-nephew Clarence Mitchell IV, told the Baltimore Sun last month.

After earning his master’s degree in sociology from Maryland, Parren Mitchell taught at Morgan State University before being elected in 1970 to Congress. He served eight terms in the House of Representatives and was elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

UM President Wallace Loh told the Sun that the university also plans to install an 8-foot-tall statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass in a remodeled plaza in front of Hornbake Library.

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