Charlene Mitchell

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Charlene Mitchell

Template:TOCnestleft Charlene Mitchell was co-chairman[1] of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

Charlene Alexander Mitchell was born in 1930 in Cincinnati, moved as a child to Chicago. She grew up in the Cabrini-Green public housing project. As a young teen, she picketed segregated places in Chicago. Her long career of unrelenting activism and persistence is most famously illustrated in the success of the campaign to free Angela Davis. In her solidarity visits, she met with CPUSA leader Claudia Jones who had been deported to England, Joseph Dadoo of the ANC, and other international leaders. In 1994 she served as an official observer of the first democratic elections in post-apartheid South Africa and was an observer at the congress of the South African Communist Party that year. In recent years, she returned to Cuba for rehabilitation medical treatment following a stroke suffered in 2007. Charlene Mitchell joined the Communist Party USA at 16 —emerging as one of the most influential leaders in the party from the late 1950s to the 1980s. She now belongs to the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.[2]

AYD member

In the 1940s, teen age Charlene Mitchell was a leader of American Youth for Democracy in Chicago.

National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation

Charlene Mitchell, Executive Secretary of National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression was named as a sponsor of the Communist Party USA dominated National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation held at Dunbar Vocational High School, Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago, October 19 to 21 1973.[3]


Charlene Mitchell was the Founding National Co-ordinator of the Committees of Correspondence. She serves as national co-chair of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the organization that grew out of the campaign to free Angela Davis. As Communist Party USA candidate in 1968, she was the first African American woman to run for president.

Mitchell retired from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) local union in 2005.

Communist delegation at funeral

Daily Worker 1968

Communist Party USA National Chairman Henry Winston, lead a Party delegation to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral. It included Claude Lightfoot, Mickey Lima, Arnold Johnson, Charlene Mitchell, Gil Green.

Presidential run


National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression

National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) was founded in 1973 in Chicago, Illinois. It grew out of the struggle to free Angela Davis from a "racist frame-up" on murder charges surrounding the aborted attempt by Jonathan Jackson to free his brother, George Jackson and the Soledad Brothers in 1970[4].

It was led by Communist Party USA members and supporters including Davis herself, Charlene Mitchell, Anne Braden and Frank Chapman.

The organization's 10th Anniversary Conference was held in Chicago, May 13-15 1983 at McCormick Inn - Featured speakers included Charlene Mitchell[5]

1982 National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression pamphlet

In 1982 Charlene Mitchell served on the National Coordinating Committee of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which was led by leading Party members Angela Davis and Charlene Mitchell.

We Will Make Peace Prevail!

On March 28, 1982 the New World Review organized a gala luncheon "We Will Make Peace Prevail! Disarmament Over Confrontation, Life Over Death", at the Grand Ballroom, Hotel Roosevelt, New York City. Virtually all participants were identified as Communist Party USA.

Charlene Mitchell was listed on the Committee of Sponsors.[6]

Communist Party dissidents

On November 15-16 1991, 30 dissident members of the National Committee of the Communist Party USA convened a meeting to "sign a statement of events" - most or all signatories were soon to break with the party and were later to form Committees of Correspondence.

The signatories included Charlene Mitchell, New York[7];

Communist Party reformer

In 1991, Charlene Mitchell, New York, was one of several hundred Communist Party USA members to sign the a paper "An initiative to Unite and Renew the Party" - most signatories left the Party after the December 1991 conference to found Committees of Correspondence.[8]

CoC National Conference endorser

In 1992 Charlene Mitchell, CoC coordinator, endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.[9]

Socialist Scholars Conference

Wayne Sing-Wai, CUNY; Michael Lighty, Director, Democratic Socialists of America; Stanley Aronowitz, CUNY, Charlene Mitchell, Committees of Correspondence, Aldyn McKean, ACT UP and Lynne Chancer were speakers on the What road for the Left? panel at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City.[10]

Black Radical Congress

In March 1998 “Endorsers of the Call” to found a Black Radical Congress included Charlene Mitchell, Co-chair, Committees of Correspondence; staff, Local 371, AFSCME [11].

150th Anniversary of the Communist Manifesto

In May 1998 Julia Fitzgerald traveled France was a conference sponsored by the educational arm of the French Communist Party, Espace Marx. The conference was part commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Communist Manifesto, part call for international analysis of capitalism at the millennium.

She attended with several other Democratic Socialists of America members including Honorary Chair Bogdan Denitch (who was a speaker at the conference), John Mason (member of DSA's Internationa] Committee) and Robert Saute and Gina Neff (both members of the City University of New York DSA chapter and organizers of the Socialist Scholars Conference).

In addition to the DSA contingent, the Americans included representatives from the Committees of Correspondence (including Co-Chair Charlene Mitchell, who spoke at the opening plenary), people from Monthly Review magazine and the Marxist School in New York City and unaffiliated leftists, mostly academics. [12]

2002 Committees of Correspondence National Convention

At the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, National Conference and Convention, July 25-28, 2002 San Francisco State University, Charlene Mitchell gave the Morning Welcome and Presentation of Scope and Objectives.[13]

MDS board member

Original members of the 2006 Movement for a Democratic Society board included[14];

Elliott Adams, Senia Barragan (Student Representative), David Barsamian, Noam Chomsky, Carl Davidson, Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Fletcher Jr, Bert Garskof, David Graeber, Tom Hayden, Gerald Horne, Mike James, Robin D G Kelley, Mike Klonsky, Ethelbert Miller, Charlene Mitchell, Michael Rossman, Mark Rudd, Howard Zinn.

On February 17, 2007, the Movement for a Democratic Society held a well attended conferenceat New York City’s New School University[15].

The event was held in the Graduate Center, 65 Fifth Avenue, and about 100 participants were in attendance. The meeting featured several speakers who are well known figures on the U.S. Left and an agenda that centered around electing a board of directors for MDS, Incorporated – the non-profit arm of MDS that was founded last August in Chicago, at the national Students for a Democratic Society convention.

Manning Marable was elected as Chair of the new Board.

The new board, elected by acclamation, included: Mark Rudd, David Graeber, Judith Malina, Jesse Zearle, Kate Khatib, Roderick Long, Al Haber, Manning Marable, Muhammed Ahmad, Charlene Mitchell, Starhawk, John O’Brien, Barbara Ehrenreich, Gideon Oliver, Jeff Jones and Bert Garskof.

Elected as officers, in addition to Marable as Chair, were three Vice Chairs: Paul Buhle, Judith Malina and Jesse Zearle[16].

Honored at CCDS convention

At the CCDS 6th National Convention July 2009[17]in San Francisco, Charlene Mitchell was honored for her work.

Friday evening featured a special "Welcome Reception and Tribute to Charlene Mitchell." The Tribute to Charlene Mitchell drew participants from wider circles than the convention itself, due to her decades of work in a variety of movements as well as founding CCDS. Recently disabled by a stroke, from which she is steadily recovering, she followed the entire convention closely, her smile beaming encouragement to each speaker.

The event was chaired by CCDS Chicago leader Mildred Williamson and was sponsored by the Kendra Alexander Foundation, represented by Eric Quezada. Angela Davis, Hon. Claudia Morcom, Giuliana Milanese, and Carl Bloice recalled in loving and glowing terms how Charlene had mentored them and encouraged them through various battles, personal and political.

"If it hadn't been for Charlene opening my eyes to many things and encouraging me," said Mildred Williamson, "I wouldn't be here today, nor would I have been able to achieve many of the other things in my life." Carl Bloice, in addition to personal stories, told about the wide respect Mitchell has among communists and progressives the world over. "I have a picture on my wall at home," said Bloice. "It's of a hall full of Bulgarian communists, all smiling, and right in the middle is one Black woman, Charlene."

John Case, a radio journalist from West Virginia, said "Charlene Mitchell was the first African-American woman to run for President of the Unites States, which she did in 1968 on the ticket of the Communist Party of the US. She also played an historic role in the worldwide defense of Angela Davis in 1970. Charlene has mentored many people over her long life, this writer included. It was a joy to participate in the tribute to her. Viva Charlene!"

2010 Chicago NAARPR awards

Democratic Socialists of America member Timuel Black received the Human Rights Award from the Chicago branch of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at their annual Dinner. The organization also honored Charlene Mitchell, Mark Clements, and Bernardine Dohrn. Professor Gerald Horne was the keynote speaker.[18]

Critical Resistance event

Critical Resistance and Brecht Forum presented Angela Y. Davis/Ruthie Gilmore/Vijay Prashad/ Laura Flanders...

Friday, May, 20, 2011 Riverside Church, South Hall Admission: $50-$250. (includes admission to main event -"The World We Want is the World We Need". Riverside Church, Nave 490 Riverside Drive. Admission: $20-$30

Host Committee: Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr, Malaika Adero, Seth Adler, Shana Agid, Sam Anderson, Kai Barrow, Andrea Bible, Jean Carey Bond, Dorothy Burnham, Melanie Bush, Rod Bush, Angela Cali, Susie Day, Jesse Ehrensaft-Hawley, Joan Gibbs, Elspeth Gilmore, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Lennox Hinds, Esther Cooper Jackson, Peter Marcuse, Jerry Meyer, Charlene Mitchell, Mary Morgan, Mary Lou Patterson, Beth E. Richie, Shreya Shah, Alvin Starks, Farrah Tanis, Laura Whitehorn.[19]

Henry Winston's centenary celebration

A standing room only crowd gathered in Winston Unity Center, New York, on the occasion of Henry Winston's centenary celebration. Winston, who was born in 1912, was the national chairman of the Communist Party for two decades until his death in 1986.

The multi-media celebration of this great African American leader included speeches, music, slideshow and greetings from former coworkers and friends - including one from New York Congressman Charles Rangel. It was streamed live to a national audience and hosted by Judith LeBlanc, the national field director of Peace Action.

Noted scholar and political activist Angela Davis brought the multi-racial audience to its feet in her moving tribute to Winston

Davis said, " [Winston] was a constant inspiration to me, especially when it came to garnering the courage to stand up to attacks I had never imagined would be directed individually at me."

Winston was also a political prisoner, unjustly imprisoned in the McCarthy era where he lost his fight due to poor medical care while there.

Davis went on to speak of Winston's "enduring opposition to corporate capitalism, militarism and racism."

While the Obama administration, she noted, wasn't immune from criticism, the election of the president had created a political climate for labor and social justice activism since 2008.

In another poignant tribute, Charlene Mitchell, the national chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and close co-worker of Winston's, pointed out that "Winston's life was intertwined with the two social forces that would mark his future life - a member of the working class, viciously exploited by the capitalist system and an African American, subjected to the base degradations of national oppression."

Mitchell also said the forces that are poised to reelect President Obama in the November election are the very same forces that can bring about "the fundamental transformation of this society."[20]

Expel South Africa From the UN

The Campaign for One Million Voices to Expel South Africa From the UN was a Communist Party USA front created in about 1974.[21] The front was launched to speak on South Africa and its membership in the United Nations. They issued an undated brochure entitled "We Who Support Human Rights... DEMAND the expulsion of South Africa from the UN!" The brochure was printed by the CPUSA print shop "Prompt Press", printing bug number 209.

Sponsors included Charlene Mitchell


Template:Reflist Template:Black Radical Congress endorsers Template:Endorsers of the Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s

  2. [1]
  3. National Anti-Imperialist Conference in Solidarity With African Liberation - Partial list of sponsors
  5. NAARPR newsletter Mar 24 1983 p1
  6. We Will Make Peace Prevail! event brochure
  7. List of those NC members who signed statement of events at meeting of 11/15-16/91
  8. Addendum to Initiative document
  9. CCDS Background
  10. SSE Tenth Annual Conference Program, 1992
  12. [Democratic Left Issue 3 1998, page 19]
  13. [The Corresponer Vol 10, number 1, June 2002]
  14. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Administrator/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/TWRF0IYM/discuss%20%282%29.htm
  18. New Ground, 128, Jan./Feb. 2010
  19. Google groups Cardozo NLG › This Friday-Angela Davis|Ruth Gilmore|Vijay Prashad|Laura Flanders Amy Cross
  20. PW, Angela Davis headlines tribute for CPUSA’s Henry Winston, by: Sam Webb February 23 2012
  21. In the brochure they made a reference to the 29th Session of the UN, which, based on its founding in 1945, would make the year 1974.