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Mary Mitchell

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Information about Mary Mitchell

Profile image of Mary Mitchell

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Columnist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
What Does It Profit A Man To Gain The Whole World And Lose His Soul?

Birthplace

Born:
5/23/1949
Birth Location:
Clarksdale, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Columnist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
What Does It Profit A Man To Gain The Whole World And Lose His Soul?

Birthplace

Born:
5/23/1949
Birth Location:
Clarksdale
See how Mary Mitchell is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary A. Mitchell was born Mary A. Duncan on May 23, 1949, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Mitchell’s mother, Carrie Williams Duncan, and father, Joseph Duncan, struggled to raise ten children in Chicago Public Housing’s Dearborn Homes and Clarence Darrow Homes. Mitchell, the eldest and a twin loved to read as she helped raise her siblings. Mitchell attended Einstein Elementary School and Wendell Phillips Upper Grade Center. At Dunbar Vocational High School, Mitchell joined a girls group called the Exquisite Ladies Club, which put emphasis on good grades, not having babies and service. Graduating from Dunbar in 1967, Mitchell was hired by Peoples Gas as a mailroom clerk. Starting at Wilson Junior College in 1968, Mitchell transferred to Chicago Teacher’s College (Chicago State University) that same year.

Mitchell became the first African American legal secretary at a major Chicago law firm, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP; she eventually quit her job as a secretary after twenty years of service. Taking writing courses at Columbia College and encouraged by Carol Holtz and P.J. Bednarski, Mitchell landed a successful internship with the Chicago Sun-Times in 1990. Graduating with her B.A. degree in journalism from Columbia College in 1991, Mitchell was hired full time by the Chicago Sun-Times. Covering educational issues, Mitchell’s five part series on Chicago Vocational High School earned her an award from the National Association of Black Journalists. From 1993 to 1995, Mitchell covered City Hall reporting on Operation Silver Shovel. Since the start of her column in 1996, Mitchell, like Carl Rowan and Vernon Jarrett before her, has attracted a large and diverse readership. Mitchell also cultivated a substantial national following via the Internet, receiving an average of 900 e-mails per week from readers.

Mitchell was the recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Studs Terkel Award from the Chicago Media Workshop, and the Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headliner Club. Mitchell was a frequent guest panelist on television and radio programs; a president of the Chicago Association of Black Journalists; and a member of the Association of Women Journalists.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mary Mitchell's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell list her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell describes her mother's childhood in Mississippi
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell describes the reason her father moved to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell describes her father's occupation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell lists her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell describes her earliest childhood memory and the parent she takes after most
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mary Mitchell describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mary Mitchell remembers growing up with a twin sister
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Mary Mitchell describes her childhood love of reading
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Mary Mitchell remembers the Young Men's Christian Association
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Mary Mitchell describes her elementary school in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell recalls the living conditions in Chicago's housing projects
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell recalls taking care of her young siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell recalls her favorite subjects and watching television with her family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell describes herself as a student
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell recalls President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s deaths
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell talks about her understanding of Chicago politics as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell recalls the lack of leadership in her childhood community
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell explains why she chose to attend Dunbar Vocational High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell describes her high school experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell recalls her experience with gangs in Chicago
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Mary Mitchell describes her high school social group
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Mary Mitchell recalls foregoing her college plans to care for her family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Mary Mitchell recalls being unaware of Chicago's community programs as a child
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell describes her parents' divorce
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell describes her personality and physical appearance as a teenager
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell describes her first work experience
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell describes her college experiences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell recalls Primus Mootry and the Black Power movement in college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell talks about the murder of Fred Hampton
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell talks about being a young single mother
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell recalls working as a legal secretary
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell talks about her favorite Chicago newspapers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell recalls Chicago's WVON Radio and African American columnists
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Mary Mitchell recalls quitting her job after being denied a promotion
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Mary Mitchell recalls struggling at Columbia College Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell recalls applying for an internship at the Chicago Sun-Times
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell explains why she chose to pursue a journalism career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell describes her first experience as a journalist
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell recalls the stories she covered as a Chicago Sun-Times intern
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell describes her experience as a Chicago Sun-Times intern
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell explains how her legal secretarial skills helped in journalism
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell shares what she learned from covering Chicago Public Schools
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell recalls her five part series on Cregier Vocational High School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell shares a lesson she learned about journalism
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell recalls reporting on Chicago's City Hall
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Mary Mitchell talks about reporting on Operation Silver Shovel, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell talks about reporting on Operation Silver Shovel, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell talks about Larry Hoover and the issues with Chicago gangs
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell recalls receiving her first column at the Chicago Sun-Times
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell recalls her column's initial reception by the black community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell recalls her disagreements with Reverend Jesse L. Jackson
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell talks about her unbiased reporting of African American leaders, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell talks about her unbiased reporting of African American leaders, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell talks about why she covers the everyday problems in Chicago
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell recounts her experience at a Cubs game
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell talks about the Chicago Bears player Tank Johnson
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell recalls criticism she faced as an African American journalist
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell describes how she writes about racism
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell talks about preserving her racial identity as a journalist
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell reflects upon being a public figure
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell reflects upon her life and career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell talks about President Barack Obama
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell describes how she would like to be remembered