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Ella Mizzell Kelly

Ella Mizzell Kelly was born on March 17, 1939 in Columbia, North Carolina. Her father was a barber and her mother, a factory worker. During her early childhood, the family migrated to New York in search of better jobs. Shortly thereafter, her parents divorced and Kelly and her sister were raised by their mother. Identified as a gifted student during grade school, Kelly excelled academically. In 1955, she earned her high school diploma from Julia Richmond High School where she was active in the chorus, Latin Club and Student Government Association.

From 1955 until 1957, Kelly attended New York State Teachers College in Albany. She transferred to Howard University in 1957, where she earned her B.A. degree in history in 1960. During her senior year, she was selected to study abroad at Oxford in England.

From 1960 until 1968, Kelly taught history in the Washington, D.C. public school system, giving her students their first introduction to African American history. In 1963, Kelly earned her master’s degree in philosophy from Howard University. Between 1969 and 1977, Kelly worked for the Department of Education as a speechwriter and senior program officer. From 1983 until 1985, Kelly attended the University of California at Los Angeles. Leaving there, she worked until 1990 as a research assistant at UCLA and served on a task force examining the under-representation of African American students in California. From 1990 until 1994, Kelly worked as a teacher and administrator at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in the departments of family medicine and nursing education. In 1995, she earned her Ph.D. in social research methodology from UCLA. From 1994 until 1998, Kelly served as a consultant on women’s health issues for the California Public Institute and the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research. From 1998 until 2003, Kelly was a senior research scientist at UCLA’s Center for Community Health where she was responsible for developing initiatives to reduce health risks associated with HIV/AIDS and African American women.

In 2003, Kelly became the deputy director at Howard University College of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, where she focuses on the impact of violence and substance abuse on low-income families and children.

Accession Number

A2004.262

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/14/2004

Last Name

Kelly

Maker Category
Middle Name

Mizzell

Schools

Julia Richman High School

P.S. 194 Countee Cullen School

Junior High School 136

State University of New York at Albany

University of Oxford

University of California, Los Angeles

Howard University

First Name

Ella

Birth City, State, Country

Columbia

HM ID

KEL01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

3/17/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Academic administrator Ella Mizzell Kelly (1939 - ) served as a speechwriter and senior program officer for the U.S. Department of Education, and later worked as a teacher and administrator at the Charles Drew University of Medicine. She was also a senior research scientist at UCLA’s Center for Community Health, and later became the Deputy Director of Child Health at the Howard University College of Medicine.

Employment

Delete

Boys Clubs

Department of Pediatrics and Child Health Howard University’s College of Medicine

District of Columbia Public Schools

Department of Education

National Institute of Education

Dr. Ed Keller

Charles Drew University of Science and Medicine

Diane Littlefield and Connie Chan-Robinson

University of California, Los Angeles Neuro-Psychiatric Institute in the Center for Community Health

Favorite Color

Yellow

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ella Mizzell Kelly's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ella Mizzell Kelly lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ella Mizzell Kelly talks about her family's move from Norfolk, Virginia to New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers her relationship with her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ella Mizzell Kelly talks about her sister

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls her childhood aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers special days during her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes her childhood neighborhood in New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls her childhood religious life

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes her distant relationship with her mother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers the aftermath of her parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes her elementary school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers her early interest in attending college

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes her childhood aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers difficulties stemming from her academic success as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls working at her maternal aunt and uncle's insurance agency as a child in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers her experiences at Julia Richman High School in New York, New York in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ella Mizzell Kelly talks about her decision to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls transferring to Howard University after experiencing racial discrimination at New York State College for Teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers her mentors at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls her mentor Eugene C. Holmes at Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ella Mizzell Kelly talks about studying at Oxford University in England in 1959 on a Lucy E. Moten Travel Fellowship from Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers student life at Oxford University in Oxford, England

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls student life at Howard University in Washington D.C.in the late 1950s and early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls teaching history in Washington, D.C. public schools

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ella Mizzell Kelly talks about the impact of learning about African history on her students and herself

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes coming to understand the systemic nature of racism while working in the federal Office of Education

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ella Mizzell Kelly remembers her decision to leave teaching and work for the federal Office of Education in 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ella Mizzell Kelly explains why she decided to obtain a Ph.D. in 1982

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls working at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, California while completing her Ph.D. requirements

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ella Mizzell Kelly explains how she focused her research on HIV/AIDS risk in low-income adolescent girls

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ella Mizzell Kelly talks about her current work on HIV/AIDS and women's health at Howard University College of Medicine

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ella Mizzell Kelly explains potential research into sexual orientation and gender identity factors of HIV/AIDS risk

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ella Mizzell Kelly gives advice to women about mitigating HIV/AIDS risk

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes her concerns for low-income African American girls

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ella Mizzell Kelly reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ella Mizzell Kelly talks about her son

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ella Mizzell Kelly describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ella Mizzell Kelly concludes her interview by recalling an oral history assignment from her career as a young public school teacher

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Ella Mizzell Kelly recalls her mentor Eugene C. Holmes at Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Ella Mizzell Kelly explains how she focused her research on HIV/AIDS risk in low-income adolescent girls
Transcript
So, you were talking about one of your professors [at Howard University, Washington, D.C.] who had, your introduction to the term feminist.$$Yes, yes, it was [Dr.] Eugene [C.] Holmes who was a protege of Alain Locke and--who was the first African American to become a Rhodes Scholar. So, he was telling me about being, and of course, I didn't understand what it was. Oh, I know what it was. We were talking about a paper I should write, and he was recommending that I write a paper on Margaret Fuller. And he said she was a feminist and he considered himself to be feminist too. And, you know, I said, "Okay," (laughter), left the class and ran to the library and looked up feminist, someone who believes women as equals. And I thought, "Okay, that's nice." And then I would try to figure out, you know, why was he making this point? And I never quite figured it out except that what I do remember, and aside from the fact that he was absolutely brilliant, and was challenging, and his classes that he taught, he taught classes on Marxist theory, Marxism and a couple of other classes as I recall. I can't remember right now. But the particular class on Marxism I do remember because I wrote a paper that he thought was the best he'd had in a long time which, coming from him, was a real, you know. But the thing that I do remember was that he was married to a woman [Margaret Cardozo Holmes] who was a businesswoman, and she--her family was quite wealthy. And it was the first example in my life in which this was obviously a very, very accomplished man who was very, very proud of his wife's accomplishments. It made an indelible impression on me. And I always stayed in touch with him. And it turns out that I have a relative--they all used to be up on the Cape [Cod, Massachusetts]. I have a relative who's well-to-do who taught at Harvard [University, Cambridge, Massachusetts] whom I'm very close to, and in the course of mentioning things, it turns out that he and his wife and Eugene and his wife were very, very close friends. And he told me that Eugene had died. And so I wrote a letter to the wife to tell her what he had meant to me. And she wrote a very, very nice letter back, and said, "Oh, yeah, I remember you. My husband always talked about--" and I'm crying, blah, blah, blah. And I thought, you know, it meant a lot to me. He was a very, he was the one who whenever thought I could sort of slip and slide, (laughter) he would just say, you know, "Do it over," (laughter).$And one year--it must have been '94 [1994], that's right, '94 [1994]--there was a conference going on in California, I mean in San Francisco [California]. A colleague of mine in the department couldn't go and said, she said, "I think you'll enjoy this. I can't go. Why don't you go for me?" And it turned out that it was a conference plan that was run by The [James] Irvine Foundation. The Irvine Foundation is the not-for-profit people who use the money from the--Orange County [California] used to be owned by one family. When the family, the Irvine family, started selling off the property, they created a foundation for the State of California called The Irvine Foundation. It has so much money, you can't begin to imagine what it's like. And they were interested in a major initiative in women's health. So they were putting 50 million dollars into a five-year effort to look at issues around women's health. So I went as an observer. And while I was there, a--two young women, Connie Chan Robison and Diane Littlefield, were talking about this idea that they had for training women, grassroots women, to be leaders in the area of women's health. And they had this proposal that they, they were in the--they were finalists, but they had to get this final proposal written. And the idea attracted me. It seems like a natural--and I, during lunch, I talked to them, and said, "Let me look at what you put together." It was horrible, but the idea was great, and I said, "No, no, no," (laughter) you know, "you've got forty-four objectives. There's no way you're gonna do this. Let me tell you what you need." And I suggested some things to them, and they liked it. And they said, "Look, we don't have any money." And I said, "That's all right. It's a great idea." So I worked with them, and they got something like over 5 million dollars. So when they got the money, they hired me as a consultant. And it was the best experience I'd had in a long time because it was, you know, first of all, their idea was that they were gonna, they were going to, in a five-year period of time, they were gonna train 250 women from every major ethnic group in the State of California to take on a leadership role in the area of women's health, as they defined it, meaning the women themselves defined it.$$Were they successful?$$Oh, absolutely, yeah. They've been written up a lot. They've gotten all kinds of awards. It was, and at that point, I decided that I really wanted to work in the areas of women's health, but I narrowed it down to HIV/AIDS [human immunodeficiency virus/autoimmune deficiency syndrome].$$Because what was the AIDS issue like among women, more particularly African American women in the--$$This would have been in the '90s [1990s]. In the '90s [1990s], it was a gay disease. In the beginning of the '90s [1990s], it was a gay disease. By the end of the '90s [1990], it was an African American disease. By the beginning of the 21st century, it was a women's disease which, and essentially, it's really a human rights issue. It's a universal human rights issue.$$Would you say it was more of an African American women's disease than just a women's disease?$$In the United States, it is, but globally, it's a women's disease. And it's low-income, uneducated women. I mean it's very, very clear that the population most at risk are those who are pov--mainly, it's by gender, race and class. And I've written several articles that have been published. Some of them don't show up there because they've, within the past few years, they've just been published. But I've written several articles as well as a couple of chapters in books around this. I focus mainly on adolescent girls, and why they're at risks, and the fact that for young adolescent, low-income girls, you literally have a time bomb that's waiting to explode, because you have issues having to do with poverty. You have issues having to do with sexism, and you have the issues having to do with racism and discrimination all coming together. And that's, it's the combination of what I--what we refer to in the social sciences as multiple social violences that place them at risk.