Celebrating pioneering dancer Arthur Mitchell

Dancer and choreographer Arthur Mitchell is not only an important part of Harlem's history but of American history. He broke the color barrier by becoming the first African-American dancer in the New York City Ballet. It was in 1955 and he didn't want any major announcement.

Columbia University's Wallach Art Gallery is honoring Mitchell, 83, with an exhibit celebrating his accomplishments and contributions.

The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. galvanized Mitchell to co-found the first African American classical ballet company—The Dance Theatre of Harlem. Classes at the now world-famous dance theater were first taught in a garage on 152nd Street.

Mitchell has used his talent to fight for political, artistic and racial justice and will continue to do so.

The free exhibit at the Wallach Gallery runs through March 11.