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Historical Highlights

Frank Mitchell, the first African-American Page

April 14, 1965

On this date, Frank Mitchell became the first African-American Page in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Paul Findley of Illinois made the historic appointment the day after Senator Jacob Javits of New York named Lawrence Wallace Bradford, Jr. the first black Page in the Senate. Mitchell’s appointment and arrival in Washington, D.C. received national media attention. Congressman Findley, Minority Leader and future President Gerald Ford of Michigan, and Republican Whip Leslie Arends of Illinois hosted a press conference at the Capitol to discuss the groundbreaking event. “This marks an historic moment in the history of the House of Representatives,” Ford observed. Findley, who represented portions of the congressional district once represented by President Abraham Lincoln during the 30th Congress (1847–1849), added, “The party of Lincoln is finally giving this very proper recognition to the Negro race.” The 15-year-old Mitchell, a resident of Springfield, Illinois, began his official page duties the day after his appointment on the centennial anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. “I think it’s a great honor and a privilege,” Mitchell remarked when asked about his new position, adding, “I’m mighty proud to be here.”

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