Genevieve Mitchell, of Cleveland, OH, is the recipient of BORDC’s June 2015 Patriot Award. A committed activist, she dedicated herself to activism upon her return from Los Angeles where she “witnessed conditions in the Black and minority community atrophy in a rapid backslide.” In every area, said Mitchell, “jobs, schools, housing, health care, the environment. Politically, our community was in decline.”
Not one to shy away from social issues, Genevieve used her unstoppable energy as a drum major for justice. She is a member of the Carl Stokes Brigade, director of The Black Women’s Center, and serves as secretary for the National Institute for Restorative Justice, an organization which brings intellectual, economic, cultural, and historic purpose to Black communities through education and justice action.
Genevieve actively engages people through her work in and with affected communities – particularly women and children – who have been economically, politically, and socially “picked apart by the system.” Mitchell works to change laws and policies by bringing people together, educating them, and organizing actions. Mitchell says, “The key is being able to work to disseminate information, strategize as an organization, and work in a timely manner while encouraging people to change things.”
She sees her work in an historical context, as she seeks to fulfill the stewardship obligations conferred by those who have paved the way for her. Among them are individuals who she characterizes as some of her greatest teachers: G. Makeda Judkins, Professor Wiburt Nichols, and Dr. Sylvester Davis. “They provided me with historical perspectives and grounding,” she said.
Mitchell said she has been fortunate to have learned from strong, powerful, black women who are intellectually brilliant, civic minded, engaged, and willing to teach and share. “Among the many women who have influenced my life, aside from my mother, I would have to include Judge Sara J. Harper, Mittie Imani Jordan, Judge Wanda Birch, Judge Jean Murrell Capers, and people like Laverne Jones Gore, who are amazing! I also respect and learn from strong black men like Reverend Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Congressman Louis Stokes, and Brigade founder, Bert, and his wife Juanita, Jennings…they have been icons in the struggle for justice.”