Arthur Mitchell (March 27, 1934 – September 19, 2018)
Arthur Mitchell was one of my greatest inspirations back when I was taking ballet lessons. Not just for his magnificent ability, but for his activism. He was a pioneer for black dancers.
Mitchell and The Color Line
I wrote him into The Color Line as a cameo character. It was a very poignant moment in the book because he embodied everything Opal had been fighting for all her life. She had always dreamed of dancing at the Metropolitan Opera, and Mitchell has to rush off to a rehearsal for a performance there. So the moment she meets him creates one of those perfect circles in life. Read the excerpt from The Color Line here.
Leaving Behind a Legacy
In 1969, shortly after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Nurtured by the optimism and idealism of the Civil Rights Era, the school began with classes taught in a garage on 152nd Street in Harlem, the community in New York City in which Arthur Mitchell grew up. The school’s curriculum was designed to give the children of Harlem the same opportunities Mitchell had as a teenager. Dance Theatre of Harlem flourished and the nucleus of a professional company was born. (Excerpt from DTH).
Today we say goodbye to a truly iconic activist, dancer, pioneer, and civil rights leader! Do you have any special memories of Arthur Mitchell’s iconic life? Leave them in the comments below!