Charlene Mitchell

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Charlene Alexander Mitchell (1930- ) is a Black American political activist, member of the Communist Party USA from 1946, and of that party's National Committee from 1957. Charlene was born in Cincinatti, Ohio, USA. She moved to Chicago with her working class family, and during WWII grew up in that city's Frances Cabrini (?) Housing rowhouses. She took classes at nearby Moody Bible Institute, planning to perhaps become a missionary. However, widespread racism in the school, combined with Charlene's appreciation of the efforts of Young Communists in picketing racially discriminatory restaurants and movie houses on Chicago's West Side, brought her toward leftist politics. She joined the American Youth for Democracy in 1943 and the Communist Party in 1946.[1]

She rose quickly in the Party. In 1955 she moved to Los Angeles, USA at the Party's request, and in 1957, at age 27, she became the youngest person ever elected to the Party's National Committee. She remained a high-ranking CPUSA member until at least the late 1980s.

She was a close friend to leading CPUSA member Louise Thompson, as well as to the Afro-Caribbean radical Cyril Briggs, who she met in Los Angeles in the 1950s.

In 1967, Charlene founded (co-founded?) the Che-Lumumba Club of the CPUSA, an all-Black club in Los Angeles, California, USA. In California, Charlene became a "mentor and close friend" of Angela Y Davis, and was instrumental in bringing Angela into the CPUSA in 1968.[2] Charlene worked with Louise Thompson and Angela in the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), the successor to NUCFAD, based in New York.[3]

Charlene ran for US President in 1968 on the CPUSA ticket. She was the first Black woman to run for President.

U.S. academician Erik S McDuffie interviewed Charlene in April 1999.

At the Black Women and the Radical Tradition Conference, in New York City, USA, 28 March 2009, Charlene, who was in attendance, was honored for her life's work. At the event, Angela Davis spoke of her in the following words: "I learned what it meant to be a Communist, what it meant to be a citizen of the world, from Charlene."

I am not sure whether Charlene is still alive as of this writing in 2016.

Other Works

  • Erik S McDuffie, 2011. Sojourning for Freedom.


  1. Erik S McDuffie, 2011, p 140.
  2. Erik S McDuffie, 2011, p 198.
  3. Erik S McDuffie, 2011, p 199.
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