Constance Mitchell Jefferson a Rochester Legend, Passes

Mrs. Constance “Connie” Mitchell, the first African-American woman to be elected in Monroe County and a forceful personality who navigated in political, business, and neighborhood circles, has died at the age of 90.
Mrs. Mitchell, who had been ill for much of this year, passed Friday morning, Dec.14.
In 1959, Mrs. Mitchell first ran unsuccessfully for the Monroe County Board of Supervisors, the predecessor to the current County Legislature. Two years later, she tried again and was victorious.
Her win came at a time when elected bodies locally — and, for that matter, nationally — were almost completely male and w] White.
“She was a role model for a lot of women, White and Black, to get into politics,” said former Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson. Mrs. Mitchell did not let the racism she encountered both when running for office and afterward deter her. If anything, it further fueled her desire to be a force for change and social justice. She was met with a racial slur from another legislator the first time she strode into a room with her elected colleagues.
“I just sat there,” Mrs. Mitchell said in a 2008 interview that is part of a University of Rochester project on the struggles of African-Americans. She said she thought, “Well, take this Connie. Keep your mouth shut. The time will come when you can tell him off.”
In that same interview, Mrs. Mitchell said that much of the pushback she received related as much to her gender as her race.
“I think being a woman, there was a lot of resentment from men period, Black and White men,” she said. ” … They had this feeling that women had a place and it certainly wasn’t at the table with them. And I ran into that for a long time … You had to prove yourself over and over and over again, that you could do what you were set up to do.

Connie with Malcolm X