Parren James Mitchell (April 29, 1922 – May 28, 2007) was a U.S. Congressman affiliated with the Democratic Party who represented the 7th congressional district of Maryland from January 3, 1971 to January 3, 1987. He was the first African American elected to Congress from Maryland.
Mitchell was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Clarence Maurice Mitchell, was a waiter, and his mother, Elsie Davis Mitchell, was a homemaker. Mitchell graduated from Frederick Douglass Senior High School in Baltimore in 1940. Mitchell served as an officer in the 92nd Infantry Division during World War II, and was wounded in Italy; he received the Purple Heart. He earned his bachelor's degree from Morgan State University, and his master's degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1950, Mitchell sued the then segregated University of Maryland for admission to the graduate school with support from the Baltimore Branch of the NAACP, and won admission. When he graduated he was the first African-American to do so from that school.
In 1968, Mitchell challenged nine-term Democratic incumbent Samuel Friedel in the Democratic primary and lost. He sought a rematch in 1970, and this time defeated Friedel by only 38 votes. He then breezed to an election in November, becoming the first African-American elected to Congress from Maryland. After the 1970 census, the 7th was redrawn as a black-majority district—Maryland's first. Mitchell was reelected seven more times from this district, never dropping below 75 percent of the vote. He even ran unopposed in 1974 and 1984 and only faced minor-party opposition in 1976 and 1978.
Mitchell died on May 28, 2007 of pneumonia at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, after being hospitalized for a week. He was 85.