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Juanita Mitchell was born on this date in 1913. She was a Black lawyer, administrator, and activist.
Juanita Elizabeth Jackson was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the daughter of Kieffer Albert Jackson and Dr. Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson. She was the second born of four children. Her siblings were Virginia, the oldest, Marion, and Bowen Kieffer. She attended Frederick Douglass High School and went on to Morgan State College; the University of Pennsylvania, where she attained a B.S. in education, cum laude, in 1931, and an M.A. in sociology in 1935; and the University of Maryland School of Law, LL. B., 1950.
In her earlier years, she traveled extensively throughout the U.S. for the Bureau of Negro Work and the Methodist Church, speaking and teaching courses in race relations. From 1935 to 1938, she was special assistant to Walter White, NAACP Executive Secretary, serving as National Youth Director. There she organized and developed programs for the organization's Youth and College Division.
On September 7, 1938 she married Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., at Sharp Street Memorial Methodist Church. They had four sons, Clarence Mitchell III, Michael Bowen, Keiffer Jackson, and George Davis.
When the University of Maryland was finally required to open its law school to Blacks in the 1940s, Mitchell was among the first to attend and was the first Black woman to practice law in the State of Maryland in 1950. The NAACP needed her skills and she devoted her legal talents as its Legal Redress Chairman. As counsel for the NAACP, she fought segregation in the courts, including the suit to desegregate the Fort Smallwood Municipal Park Beach and the swimming pools in Baltimore. She also fought restaurant desegregation cases and the “Veney Raid" case enjoining the Baltimore City Police Commission from conducting mass searches of private homes without warrants, and others.
"Mobilization! Legislation! Litigation! Education! The Ballot!" were the words Juanita Jackson Mitchell conveyed as the key ingredients to empowerment for Blacks in America. From her days as a high school student until in her late 80s when she was physically limited by a stroke, Mitchell pushed those themes.
Throughout the turbulent years of the 1940s and into the 1980s, she figuratively manned the barricades, sometimes at the side of her sainted mother and with her husband. Later, she could be found leading her sons along the Freedom Trail. In 1985, she was elected to the first Baltimore City Hall of Fame for Women by the Baltimore City Commission for Women and given the Everett J. Waring Honor by the Law Society of Howard County.
In 1987, she joined her mother, Dr. Lillie Carroll Jackson, with her induction into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. The Maryland Women’s Bar Association recognized her with its first and only honorary membership in 1990. In 1991, the Monumental City Bar Association created the Juanita Jackson Mitchell Scholarship Fund.
Juanita Jackson Mitchell died in Baltimore of a heart attack and stroke in July 1992.
Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York