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Flushing street co-named for late civil rights activist

Community leaders as well as family and friends of the Rev. Timothy Mitchell cheer as the covering over the new street sign is removed. Photo by Yinghao Luo
TimesLedger Newspapers

The late Rev. Timothy Mitchell is now officially the “prince of Prince Street” after he was honored Saturday when the street was co-named after him.

He had long been known by that moniker because of his service to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Flushing, at 36-12 Prince St., and the surrounding community throughout most of his life.

At the request of City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), the Council approved the co-naming of the street July 1, and about seven weeks later family, friends and parishioners gathered at the church to celebrate the life of the man who had served their congregation for 47 years.

Many people, including Mitchell’s son, James, told stories about him.

He had been a Civil Rights activist and had worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., according to family members.

James Mitchell recalled how, early on, his father sensed that the demographics of Flushing would shift and become predominantly Asian. Rather than fight the change, he welcomed new residents into the community.

“I miss him,” James Mitchell said. “I’m sure we all miss him.”

“It’s evident he touched a lot of lives,” he said, while addressing attendees in the church.

Mitchell retired in 2008 and was then honored as the church’s pastor emeritus.

After the ceremony inside the church, those in attendance crossed the street to watch Mitchell’s family and other community members reveal the new sign. The unveiling was met with cheers and applause.

Mitchell, who was born in 1930, graduated from Flushing High School and enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight in the Korean War.

He later earned degrees in history and theology from Queens College, a master’s degree in theology from New York University and a doctorate of divinity from the New York Theological Seminary.

In 1957, he married Judith Emily Lawrence and the couple had four children. She died in 2006.

Mitchell died at the age of 81 in February 2012. His funeral, held at the church where he served, was standing-room only.

James Mitchell said he knows there will be many people who drive past the street sign and will not know who his father was. The sign may also one day be replaced with a new name, he said.

But his father never worked for fame or glory, and the late clergyman is likely already being honored in heaven, James Mitchell said.

“There will be another sign with Dr. Mitchell’s name on it, placed strategically on glory, somewhere between ‘Well Done Way’ and ‘Faithful Servant Boulevard,’” he said.

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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