Life's great adventure is over. It rained and the winds blew as the spirit of the strong man which had weathered innumerable storms "drifted out into that dark and unknown sea which rolls around all the world." His great intellect, his indomitable will, his unconquerable spirit and matchless courage rest at last with the ashes of this restless man. The story of the adventurous career of the man who lived a life peculiarly his own reads like a tale told by Oscar Wilde.
Lay the lone warrior away. Let there be no lamentations, no tears, no attempts at eulogy. The man's career suffices. Neither let there be any criticisms or what might beens (sic). None among his contemporaries are qualified to sit in judgement. The man was simply superior.
Yet there must be some formalities, so let the priests chant their chants. Let the fraternities perform their rites. Sing the songs of love and hope and cover his bier with winter blossoms. Yea, toll the bells, for John Mitchell, Jr., is dead. Childe Harold's pilgrimage is ended.
'Tis Richmond, but living Richmond no more.
By M. A. Norrell.
From the Front page story:
RACE CHIEFTAIN SHEDS ARMOR[Richmond Planet, December 7, 1929]
The funeral of John Mitchell, Jr., who entered into rest Tuesday, December 3, 1929, at 6 a.m., just as the sun was peeping over the horizon letting the world know that another day had dawned, the soul of this warrior, chieftan and race defender, leaped from this tenament of clay and he passed into that great beyond, where no battles are to be fought, took place at Fifth Street Baptist Church Thursday December 5, 1929.
The news quickly flashed over the city and the public was dumbfounded, because very few knew of his illness. While he has not been in the best of health for some time, still it was only on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1929, that he gave up and had to be carried from his newspaper office, "The Richmond Planet," to his home, 515 N. Third Street. Medical skill and the tender nursing of loved ones and friends could not ward of this blow. His remains laid in state until Thursday, 1:30 p.m., and was viewed by many thousands, after which the cortege.was formed and escorted by the Imperial Order of King David, Old Dominion Court, I. O. O. Calanthe, Venus Lodge K. of P. wended its way to the Fifth Street Baptist Church, of which the deceased has been a member for a number of years.
The services were opened by Rev. C.A. Cobb, of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church, lining (sic) the hymn, "Abide With Me Fast Falls the Evening Tide." The choir, under the leadership of Prof. Joseph Matthews, leader of the Sabbath Glee Club, led the singing and the congregation joined in. Reading of the Scriptures by Rev. S. C. Burrell, General Secreatry of the YMCA, Psalm 116, "I love the Lord." A very touching solo was then rendered by Prof. Joseph Matthews, entitled, "I am Weary of Bearing My Burdens," and it moved many to tears. etc, etc.
Other excerpts include:
He liked to do things. He was self-willed, fought in the open, and of dauntless courage, and believed that eventually the race would come into its own. He was bold and a great warrior.
"A noble man has fallen and it will be a long time before Richmond will produce another John Mitchell, Jr."
"In the States he had traveled, John Mitchell, Jr., had given the people in the rural districts great inspiration. The greatest monument to him is in the hearts and minds of the men and women he has led."
John Mitchell, Jr., returning from the battle of life with his shield dented, sword bent, his sandals slit and his armor pierce[d] both front and back, by friends and foes, but like John Brown of old, his spirit will go marching on."
He was buried in the family section in Evergreen Cemetery beside his mother.
He was buried under Masonic rites, performed by Past Master, L. C. Cornett."
A TRIBUTE, A CREDIT, AN INSPIRATION[Richmond Planet, December 28, 1929]
The following is a description of a memorial to John Mitchell, Jr., on display in the window of the Lawntown Shoe Company located at the corner of First and Clay Streets. The author begins by lamenting the dearth of tributes and memorials in the Richmond Press to Mitchell.
"When Hon. John Mitchell, Jr., passed out of this life on (sic) last Tuesday, a real man passed. Yet the total of all that was said about him in the two daily papers, though he himself was a newspaper man of national reputation, was no more than what we have seen in these papers about some white subscriber's "mammy nurse" or his "Uncle Jim."
"As a background the window is draped in silver gray silk velour. In the center of the window, mounted on a flat white easel is a life-size portrait of the man who for forty-seven years was the editor of the Richmond Planet. A flat black ragged edge scroll surrounds the portrait which bears the name John Mitchell, Jr., in flat white letters.
To the right of this is an antique bronze candlestick three feet high and holding a four foot candle lighted by an electric flasher. Midway on this burning candle is fastened with snow white ribbon, a copy of The Planet, the last one issued by John Mitchell, Jr. The candle, with its flashing light, is emblematic of the brilliant flashes from his editorial pen.
The idea of this tribute was entirely original with Mr. W.H. Walton. This is certainly a credit to Mr. Walton and to Richmond. Colored people should have race pride enough to take notice of it. They should go to the corner of First and Clay and view this memorial. They should take their children to see it.
They should tell the children that though John Mitchell, being human, made mistakes, they ought to emulate his virtues and his work for his race, either of which far outweighed his errors.
When viewing the exhibit, they should realize that had we not have had this shoe store and a man of Henry Walton's artistic ability, we would not have had this exhibit.
Then, recognizing that the child by their side may have the same innate ability which Henry Walton as a child had, they should be thankful for the life of John Mitchell, Jr., should give credit to W.H. Walton for the tribute and should striver to impress on the child the inspiration and the incentive to equal the accomplishments of John Mitchell, Jr.
Editor's note: On account of their Xmas exhibit, the tribute had to be removed from the window, but can be seen on the inside of the store.By S.P.B. Steward.
To return to The Planet's afterlife