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Case 1: Education and Military Service

Littleton Purnell Mitchell, known as "Lit," was born on November 27, 1918, in Milford, Delaware. He attended the Milford Colored School until eighth grade and then attended Howard High School in Wilmington, the only secondary school in the state of Delaware open to African-American students at the time. Mitchell graduated from Howard in 1939 and was admitted to West Chester State Teachers College of Pennsylvania (now West Chester University) on a track scholarship.

After two years in college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp and was stationed in Tuskegee, Alabama, as a member of the celebrated "Tuskegee Airmen" during World War II. While at Tuskegee Army Air Base, he served as an instructor for instrument simulator training. Mitchell, like other African-Americans in the armed forces, was subject to severe discrimination while at Tuskegee.

When he was discharged from the Army in February 1946, Littleton returned to West Chester State Teachers College and continued coursework. He graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education. He later continued his formal education at the University of Delaware and Temple University, concentrating in Special Education.

Mitchell remained a reserve officer in the U.S. Army, and graduated from the Athletic Directors' School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and the Special Service Officer's School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, in 1950 and 1951 respectively.

Selected items on display:

  1. Howard High School letter jacket patches, circa 1938.
  2. Howard High School certificate of participation, 1938.
  3. West Chester State Teachers College freshman year button, 1940.
  4. Postcard from Earle Waters recalling Mitchell as a student, 1979.
  5. Army service diary, 1942.
  6. Photograph of Mitchell in uniform, circa 1942.
  7. Mitchell in an instrument flight simulator, circa 1944.
  8. Certificate of appreciation for war service, signed by Harry S. Truman, 1946.
  9. Mitchell at Athletic Directors' School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 1950.

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