Dr. Reavis Mitchell, Prominent Nashville Educator Passes

Reavis L. Mitchell, Jr. passed away quietly on June 17, 2020. He was a native Nashvillian graduating from Fisk University in 1969, held a Master of Science from TSU and a Doctorate from MTSU, with post-doctoral studies from Harvard University. Dr. Mitchell was a member of Fisk’s history faculty since 1980 and served as Professor of History and Dean of the School of Humanities and Behavioral Social Sciences.

Dr. Mitchell was one of the historians who organized Nashville’s Local Conference on Afro-American History and Culture. Over the past 20 years, he wrote several profiles in the conference proceedings, “Leaders of Afro-American Nashville.” He was the author of Thy Loyal Children Make Their Way: A History of Fisk University Since 1866 and a dozen entries in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. He also wrote hundreds of historical monographs in journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Reavis L. Mitchell was frequently consulted on African-American heritage and architecture, and his comments have been published in TIME, Ebony, Black Enterprise, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, and The Journal of Ethnic Studies. He served as a historical consultant for a PBS documentary film on the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and the documentary, Partners of the Heart, which chronicled the life of pioneering surgical research technician, Vivien T. Thomas. For the last twenty years, Dr. Mitchell served as an on-air consultant to News Channel 5.

Dr. Mitchell chaired the Metro Historical Commission and was serving his fifth term as Chairman of the Tennessee Historical Commission. He was also a member of the Tennessee Historical Society, where he was serving as Vice President for State at Large.

He leaves to mourn his passing his devoted wife, Dr. Patricia Mitchell, four sons, and a granddaughter.