Updated: Jan 8
Can I tell you a semi secret story? When I was around 14 I asked my father this question. "What happened to John Mitchell Jr's papers and personal artifacts?" The rumor was that they were buried with him. My father said, "When entering the house the first thing you'd see was a huge silver award cup." Dad would hold his hands up vertically about 2 and a half feet. He recounted asking his Dad (Roscoe) a similar question. "What happened to that cup?" Well, the silver cup was confiscated by the courts when they charged "the Fighting Editor" with financial malfeasance. Charges he was later cleared of before his passing in 1929. But they never returned his "stuff"? My father used the word stuff to denote much of his valuable possessions. Which included various awards, medals, plaques and a few of his properties. They even took one building that actually belonged to my Grandmother (Lilian). But that silver cup was given to him by the American Bankers Associations. A group of white men whose majority hated his guts. But even they recognized his importance in the grand scheme of American finance prior to Jim Crow. This same field of greatness is what they used to de-claw him and sink his empire. To my Father, that cup represented that which was built to be passed down to the family. The often heard cliche of "you can't take it with you" only applies in a selfish western culture. It's pure bullshit. African culture, musc like Jewish culture is not about the singular. Wealth is meant to be communal. It is meant for the family. My father would often say of the matter, "don't let know one tell you you can't die from a broken heart". When in the mid 1940s the court told Roscoe that there was nothing left of his uncle's estate it changed Roscoe C. Mitchell's entire demeanor for the worse. It also didn't help that my Grandmother Lilian "Pudge" Mitchell (Davis) had destroyed some of John Mitchell Jrs papers in a fit of anger prior to that. So no. There isn't anything buried with him at Evergreen Cemetery. I feel it's appropriate to tell this first hand story because nobody asked. Very few folks ever ask good questions any more. Lazy writers, soundbites and clickbait is all the rage now. Reporters add personal flourishes to the truth to garner warriors for a cause. Both the Left and the Right are guilty of muckraking. Not that there isn't any muck to rake. But the tunnel vision is maddening. I know because I've done it too. It's human nature to put yourself in the best possible light. Every moment is a selfie nowadays. Maybe that's why I've neglected my so called legacy for decades. Fear that my peers would interpret my words and deeds as an attempt to profit from an imaginary Mitchell legacy. Well, at least imaginary in my mind. I saw my Father's occasional reluctance to step out into the mainstream. (More on that at another time) Seeing my uncles shake their heads when reminiscing on attempts to rebuild what should have been millions of dollars of ancestral capital stolen by Jim Crow. That was my excuse to refrain from using "The Planet" name as my personal sounding board. Even some family advised me to walk carefully in the Capital of the Confederacy. Even more carefully in our city's Black maze of high hopes, criticism and few lasting rewards. So I half heartedly played the game. Get a skill. Get a job. Be kind and help others while waiting your turn. Dammit to hell....what a waste. I've had to hold my tongue for the causes of others. Most of those causes lined up with my values. But I always felt held back by comrades and followed the direction of my generals. Supervisors, managers, Company Presidents, Professors, Music Execs, Promoters, Band leaders and such. All for the good of the team. Never going public to ruin someone's game. Well now that Enrichmond is dissolving I can truly say that I am the last man standing. So I'm going to sing like a bird. I'll tell anyone willing to truly listen. Anyone willing to move forward will find power in what I say. Even if they don't agree with it. But be warned Cassius. In the words of the great philosopher Sir Bernie Mac. "I ain't scared of you Mfs". Because I honestly want to see success in all of our positive endeavors. Even when I disagree with you. "I await the coming of spring. When all the winter storms have passed and we get to try again. What else can I do? But that "good thing' even when it's not my best" - JM4 John Mitchell - The 4th of my name.