Hon/Rev
Everett D. Mitchell, MDiv, ThM, JD

Senior Pastor

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"It is far easier to build strong children than to repair broken [wo]men” – Frederick Douglass

 

The Honorable Reverend Everett Mitchell[1] is a fierce advocate for education and equity.  Judge Mitchell was elected to the Dane County Circuit Court as a juvenile court judge and presides over cases involving family re-unification, juvenile delinquency, and other civil and criminal proceedings.  Further, Judge Mitchell also oversees Dane County’s Drug Court Program.  Judge Mitchell is committed to dismantling what he describes as the Child Welfare to Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Prison Pipeline operating not only in Wisconsin, but also around the country.  In this pipeline, systems pass traumatized children from one system to the next without acknowledging or addressing their trauma.  His approach is documented in the Wisconsin Public Television Series, “Not Enough Apologies: Trauma Stories.”[2]  He believes passionately in the endless potential of children and communities to transform their trauma stories.  As a trauma survivor himself, Judge Mitchell approaches each case with an eye bent towards making sure the court system does not contribute to the ongoing traumatic narrative that many children and families experience.  He often tells the children in his court, “I am not your judge, I am your reflection.”   

 

During his tenure on the bench, Judge Mitchell has worked with colleagues to change courtroom policies to reflect trauma informed practices, such as removing restraints and handcuffs on youth during hearings.  Additionally, Judge Mitchell worked with the Madison Metropolitan School District, the second largest district in the state, to create an Office of Youth Engagement that provides a bridge for youth involved in the criminal justice system to educational programming.  He also initiated conversations with the District to create more inclusive policies and practices concerning youth involved in the criminal justice system, many of whom also receive special education and related services, by reducing the number of students on shortened school day schedules so their hours of instruction are increased.  Judge Mitchell works tirelessly to ensure the youth under his jurisdiction are treated with respect and dignity.  While this may be common sense, he has found that it is not always common practice, which is the reason why after a visit to a Youth Prison in Wisconsin and hearing from the incarcerated young men there, he advocated that black and brown children receive haircuts by a licensed barber and not a dog groomer.  With every opportunity, Judge Mitchell tries to connect the community with incarcerated youth and adults.  Through his support, members of the Black Law Students Association regularly visit the local detention center so law students can eat lunch with and engage youth in the detention center.  Judge Mitchell is adamant that the first time people see him should not be when they appear before him in court.  In contrast, he is a man woven into the fabric of his community and has visited over 30 schools in Dane County to talk with children about the juvenile justice system and empower them to think of themselves as renaissance men and women who have the capacity to be the change they want to see in the world.  Judge Mitchell has also lectured or spoken at colleges and universities, national conferences, community events, corporate events, professional development workshops, and in front of many other diverse audiences.

 

Judge Mitchell’s social justice lens is steeped in his calling and commitment to justice and equity.  Since 2011, Judge Mitchell has served as Senior Pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison, Wisconsin.  He serves the congregation with passion, vision, and dedication.  The mission of the church is, “…to be a place where everybody is somebody.”  His resolve to pursue love, service, justice, and equity, led him to identify his congregation as a church that is open and affirming to those in the LGBTQIA community, and it is the only predominately black church to do so in Dane County.  In 2015, he became the first pastor of a black Baptist church in the state of Wisconsin to marry a same sex couple inside of the church.[3]  While he continues to receive considerable push back, he remains steadfast and dedicated to his path of equity and justice.  Under his leadership, Judge Mitchell recently led the congregation into a formal alliance with a majority white congregation so that both congregations can be intentional about dismantling the racial barriers that make Sunday morning “…the most segregated hour in America.” [4]

 

Service is at the heart of Judge Mitchell.  As the Co-Chair of the United Way of Dane County Community Engagement Committee, he created a process to provide grass roots organizations with seed funding so many could continue their work of supporting low-income families, domestic abuse victims, and children.  His consistent dedication has been recognized within the community.  Among the awards he has received, Judge Mitchell is most proud of being honored with the 2017 City of Madison and Dane County Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award.

 

Judge Mitchell understands the magnitude of Bryan Stevenson’s words when he wrote, “…The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”  The Honorable Reverend Everett Mitchell continues to leverage his knowledge and power to lead with purpose so those who are not at the table, have their voices and interests represented.    

 

Over the 14 years that Judge Mitchell has been a member of the Dane County community, he has become dedicated advocate for justice for all, but especially for the underserved and disenfranchised. He has received numerous honors for his quiet and effective efforts toward improving relationships and communication between various diverse groups.

He has been awarded

  • The Urban League of Greater Madison’s Young Professional of the Year Award;

  • Freedom Inc., Advocate Award;

  • Outreach Inc., Ally of the Year Award;

  • Wisconsin Children and Families, Giraffe Award;

  • Odyssey Program, Partner and Supporter Award;

  • Charles Hamilton Houston, Difference Maker Award;

  • James Madison Memorial Black Student Union Imani Award.

  • GSafe Judi Devereux Community Organizer Award

  • 2017 City-County, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award;

  • 2019 Madison Area Urban Ministry Visionary Award

 

Judge Mitchell’s community service in Dane County has included:

  • United Way of Dane County Board of Directors

  • United Way of Dane County, Co-Chair of Community Engagement Team

  • United Way, Member of the Vision Council

  • Co-Chair, Task Force on Law Enforcement and Communities of Color

  • Board Member, Goodman Community Center

  • Board Member, Agrace Hospice

  • Chancellor Scholar Mentor

  • 100 Black Men of Madison

  • Elder Member, Young, Gifted and Black

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Member

  • Mentor for Children Who Have a Parent Incarcerated: Mentoring Connections

  • Kromery Middle School Mentor: Omega Psi Phi

  • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Member

  • Carter G. Woodson Foundation, Turkey Drive Out Reach Chair

 

Judge Mitchell is married to the love of his life Dr. Mankah Zama Mitchell. They have two children: Sydney and Braylon Mitchell.

 

Judge Mitchell lives by the quote:

"Do not follow the path that has been given, instead go to where there is no path and leave a trail." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

[1] Judge Mitchell holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Religion from Morehouse College; Master of Divinity and Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is married to the love of his life Dr. Mankah Zama Mitchell.  They have two children, Sydney and Braylon Mitchell.

 

[2] Not Enough Apologies: Trauma Stories:  https://www.pbs.org/video/not-enough-apologies-8bdjrb/

 

[3] https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/madison-pastor-makes-waves-in-black-church-with-support-of/article_613aacaa-9b3a-5d3f-8335-0d29b672a89f.html

[4]https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/a-church-that-stands-for-something-that-is-vitally-needed/article_12c54c58-7eb4-5e08-a6e2-049504efa4dc.html.