Prof. Denton L. Watson

Watson-headshotProfessor Watson is a historical documentary editor and member of the American Studies faculty at SUNY College at Old Westbury. He is editing a 9-volume edition of The Papers of Clarence Mitchell, Jr., under the sponsorship of SUNY College at Old Westbury with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), and The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.

In October 2005, Volumes I and II of the papers covering Mitchell’s tenure as associate director of field operations at the Fair Employment Practice Committee from 1942 to 1946 were published by Ohio University Press. The three other volumes will be on Mitchell’s struggles for passage of the civil rights laws. Professor Watson is also the biographer of Clarence Mitchell, Jr. This work, Lion in the Lobby Clarence Mitchell, Jr.’s Struggle for the Passage of Civil Rights Laws, was first published in 1990 by William Morrow and Company; the revised edition was published by University Press of America in 2002. Professor Watson has also published scholarly and newspaper articles and biographical profiles on Mitchell.

A journalist-historian, Professor Watson first met Mitchell when he joined the NAACP national public relations staff in 1971. His work involved broad studies of the organization’s history under the tutelage of Mitchell, Roy Wilkins, executive director, Gloster B. Current, director of branches and field administration, Henry Lee Moon, director of public relations (Balance of Power, The Negro Vote), and others in the NAACP who had played leading roles in the modern civil rights movement on the national, regional and local levels. From 1982 to 1985, he was national director of public relations for the NAACP. His current work of editing Mitchell’s papers actually began in 1979, when he started working on Lion in the Lobby, which took 10 years to complete. 

Professor Watson began his journalism career as a reporter for and subsequently, he worked with United Press International in New York City. After serving as a stringer in Chile for The Miami Herald, he became a writer for Time magazine. At The Baltimore Sun, he was an editorial writer specializing in civil rights, Africa, Latin America, southern Asia and the Far East.