The Reverend Everett Mitchell heard the call to ministry at the age of 15. By the time he was 33, he held bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and religion, master’s degrees in divinity and theology, and a law degree. He spent two years as an assistant district attorney before joining the University of Wisconsin as Director of Community Relations. He is also senior pastor at Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church on Madison’s east side and has become known as an ally and supporter of the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition.
He seeks to bring all of that experience back to the courtroom, this time as judge. Just last week he launched his campaign to fill the fourth branch seat being vacated by Judge Amy Smith.
Rank your Top 5 MCs. Mos Def, Missy Elliot, Talib Kweli, Chuck D (Public Enemy), Busta Rhymes
Which motivates you more: doubters or supporters? Doubters.
Do you prefer being called Black or African American? Black. I always identify the term with ontological blackness—connecting me with the pride that was recovered in the term during the black power movement. Black is still so beautiful.
What three leaders in Madison under 50 have impressed you the most? M Adams, Gloria Reyes, Erica Nelson (Race to Equity)
What’s the biggest stumbling block in Madison to turning the corner on our racial disparities? The lack of transparent and intimate intersectional relationships. While the intentions and passions are genuine, we are still suffering from a lack of intersections that allow us to listen deeper.
What are your top three priorities at this point in your life? My family, particularly encouraging my wife as she completes her JD/Ph.D; My church; My campaign for Judge.
How has being a pastor helped prepare you to be a Judge? As Senior Pastor of a multi-ethnic church, you learn that humanity is truly interconnected and that individuals have the capacity to change and grow. I have learned the human spirit is powerful and capable of handling life’s most complex issues. I realize that listening requires providing empathy. The most important thing is not being afraid to make tough decisions.
Since you joined the University of Wisconsin, what has the University done to address the needs of people of color? The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a place full of passionate, concerned and motivated men and women who are hopeful for the least of these in this community. My office opened the South Partnership Space in South Madison that allows for programs such as Odyssey, Family Voices, the University of Wisconsin Law School,
Dementia, Medical School, partner with the community to offer our resources. Even this past week, I worked with a team, Deb and Shelia, to ensure that teenagers from MMSD, NIP and Verona were given VIP access to the Bryan Stevenson presentation at the University. In partnership with WARF, we started a program called UpStart that allows for entrepreneurship education for men and women of color.
What 3 historical figures have influenced your life? Martin Luther King Jr. (Young Leader), Harvey Milk and Thurgood Marshall
Why did you feel the need to help the Young Gifted and Black Coalition? I started my relationship with Freedom Inc. years ago because I believed in their mission of bringing together brown, black, and yellow teens to talk about their intersections and relationships. The leaders from Freedom Inc. were instrumental in forming YGB. I knew their desire was to assist in bringing the voices to the table that others were not hearing. Their goals were not incompatible with what many others were committed to seeing happen in Dane County: If you build up the people, you don’t have to build jails. While many people disagree with their methods, they are educating a new generation to see and appreciate the need for civil disobedience. Their activism has caused a unique conversation between people of color and law enforcement that would not have been as intentional and deep. The depths of relationships being built are a testament to their sacrifice of time and their lives.
As a husband and a father, how does your family help you shape your values and prioritize your time? I have two children, a ten year old girl and a three year old son. I work hard because I want my children to have a vision of a world built on equity, acceptance and justice.
But my family also keeps me grounded. My kids are not impressed with awards. My children want me to be home with them, playing games and cuddling on Saturday mornings.