MITCHELL, L. PEARL (June 1883-6 Sept. 1974), civil-rights activist, was born in Wilberforce, Ohio to Amanda M. and Dr. Samuel F. Mitchell, president of Wilberforce College, from which she received a bachelor's degree. Mitchell briefly studied music at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and sociology at Kalamazoo College before turning to war-camp community service during WORLD WAR I. After her father's death, she worked as a typist to finance her siblings' education, coming to Cleveland in the early 1920s. In 1926 Mitchell became a probation officer in juvenile court, a position held until ill health prompted her resignation in the 1940s. In 1923 she joined the Cleveland branch of the NAACP, eventually serving as president (1936-37), executive secretary (1945), national vice-president (1959), and national director of membership campaigns. Locally, Mitchell led protests against the school system's discriminatory operation of special-activity schools and against segregated public-housing projects. She mobilized newspaper support for the employment of black nurses at City Hospital, and also organized the NAACP's youth council.
After her retirement, Mitchell continued her civic involvement. She served on the board of the Ohio Soldiers' & Sailors' Orphans' Home, integrating the Columbus facility; and was on the Women & Manpower Commission, Greater Cleveland Fair Employment Practices Commission, and Commission on the Aged. Mitchell, interested in drama, was a member of the Gilpin Players and appeared in performances at the Play House Settlement, including Jo Sinclair's The Long Moment, the first interracial play performed at the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE.
L. Pearl Mitchell Papers, WRHS.
NAACP Cleveland Branch Records, WRHS.
Last Modified: 21 Jul 1997 10:58:49 AM
Salem, Dorothy C., ed. African-American Women: A Biographical Dictionary (1994).
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