Juanita Jackson Mitchell

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Juanita Elizabeth Jackson Mitchell (January 2, 1913 – July 7, 1992) was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and was the first African-American woman to practice law in Maryland. She was married to Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. and the mother of two Maryland State Senators and the grandmother of a third.


The daughter of Kieffer Albert Jackson and Dr. Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson, Mitchell attended Frederick Douglass High School, Morgan State College and graduated, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in education in 1931. Four years later she earned a M.A. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania as well. In 1950 she became the first African-American woman to graduate from the University of Maryland School of Law, and the first African-American woman to practice law in Maryland.[1][2]


In her earlier years, Mitchell 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 F. White, NAACP Executive Secretary, serving as National Youth Director. There she organized and developed programs for the organization's Youth and College Division.[3] Mitchell was the president of Maryland’s NAACP Baltimore City branch when she advocated for Baltimore school desegregation and after the case in 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education, she was a major campaigner for making Maryland the first southern state to have integration. She also filed many other cases to desegregate numerous other aspects of segregated life including restaurants, parks and swimming pools. Mitchell also ran voter registration drives in the 1940s, '50s and '60s to help influence and rally African Americans in Baltimore to vote.

Mitchell was also recognized in the political arena for being a crusader and leader. She was named to the White House Conference on "Women and Civil Rights" by John F. Kennedy and in 1966 she was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the White House Conference “To Fulfill These Rights” which dealt with finding solutions concerning African Americans in relation to economic security, education and justice. In 1987 Mitchell was inducted, along with her mother, into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. The NAACP has also recognized Juanita Jackson Mitchell for her accomplishments and has created a “Juanita Jackson Mitchell Award for Legal Activism” to honor her feats as a black woman in the legal field.

Mitchell family[edit]

In 1938, Mitchell married Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., who was known nationally for being a civil rights activist, being dubbed "the 101st Senator." She was the daughter of Dr. Lillie Jackson, who was also a major civil rights leader and who also was president of the NAACP Baltimore branch and was known as “Mother of Freedom.” Juanita Jackson Mitchell came from a long line of civil activists and continued the line. She was the mother of former state senators Michael B. Mitchell and Clarence M. Mitchell, III.[4] Her grandson, Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr., was a member of the Baltimore City Council and ran for Mayor of Baltimore in 2007. Juanita Mitchell was rendered a quadriplegic in November 1989 after falling down a flight of stairs. While undergoing therapy for that injury, she suffered a stroke, her second since 1985; she was 79. Juanita Jackson Mitchell died in Baltimore of a heart attack and complications from the strokes in July 1992.


Each year, the NAACP, at its National Convention, awards the Juanita Jackson Mitchell Legal Activism Award to an NAACP Unit for exemplary legal redress committee activities.[5]


  1. ^ "Biographical Series: Juanita Jackson Mitchell (1913-1992)". Archives of Maryland. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  2. ^ http://www.law.umich.edu/historyandtraditions/students/Pages/ProfilePage.aspx?SID=13345&Year=1944
  3. ^ "Juanita Jackson Mitchel". The African American Registry. Retrieved 2008-05-12. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Civil rights leader battled bias in court". The Baltimore Sun. 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2008-05-12. [dead link]
  5. ^ "NAACP Legal Department Awards". NAACP. Retrieved 2008-05-12. [dead link]