WASHINGTON – Today Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, issued the following statement on the passing of former Congressman Parren Mitchell:

"With the passing of Congressman Parren Mitchell, our country has lost one of its legendary advocates for minority business owners, a giant who knew that the struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity would be decided in America's board rooms as well as its voting booths and lunch counters.

"Congressman Mitchell fought with heart, grit, integrity, and determination to level the playing field so more minority firms could do business with the federal government. He didn't just serve as Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, he served as Congress' conscience. His life was an incredible story. From breaking racial barriers at the University of Maryland to serving as chairman of Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Parren Mitchell was a pioneer in the fight to ensure equal rights for minorities.

"In the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, we will honor his work and preserve his ideals by passing laws that continue to expand opportunity for all Americans who have been shut out or left behind."