She fought a system that required prospective jurors to be kept on two lists, one for blacks and another for whites. She was
counsel for a group of demonstrators who sat in on Eastern Shore restaurants in the early 1960s. She aided Freedom Riders who sought to desegregate restaurants along Route 40, then a major thoroughfare through Maryland.
She was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to be a member of the White House Conference on Children in 1940. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy named her to the White House Conference on Women and Civil Rights. And in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her to the White House Conference to Fulfill These Rights.
In her 70s, she was still working for her community. In April 1985, after several black teen-agers were murdered in shootings in Baltimore, Mrs. Mitchell helped organize a series of community meetings that became the "Stop the Killing Campaign."
"We're not going to sit down and let the hoodlums take over the streets," she told one group. "This is our city."
Over the years, she also spoke out on a host of other issues, including police brutality and the poor treatment of inmates in Maryland's jails and prisons.
An attractive woman who favored wide-brimmed hats, Mrs. Mitchell never moved out of the West Baltimore rowhouse neighborhood where she was born even after the area declined. She explained that her mother had told her to become highly educated but to never separate herself into "an intelligentsia."
Mrs. Mitchell graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1931. Even there, she led a successful effort to end racial segregation in the school's dormitories.
In 1932, she helped form a citywide young people's forum. Out of the youth movement grew a reorganized Baltimore NAACP.
Other members of her family also were involved in the civil rights struggle. Her late husband, who died in 1984, was dubbed the 101st senator because of his influence on Capitol Hill as an NAACP lobbyist.
Her brother-in-law, Parren J. Mitchell, became Maryland's first black congressman in 1970 and built a strong reputation as a civil rights leader and minority business advocate before retiring in 1986.
--Michael A. Fletcher;
Sandy Banisky and Michael Ollove contributed
Originally published July 8, 1992
Juanita Jackson Mitchell
Civil rights leader battled bias in court
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