Black History in the Making: Debbie Mitchell

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Debbie Mitchell on the Geraldo Rivera showAs Black History Month rolls on I’m truly inspired not only by the heroines of the past, but by the women in my circle who are making a difference today. Deborah J. Mitchell is one such woman.

Spending 25 years in the television “game,” Debbie is what they call a game changer. She has shaped shows we’ve watched and even helped to influence our opinions. From 1994-1998, Debbie was Geraldo Rivera’s co-host as part of her 11 years with “The Geraldo Rivera Show.” During that time she had the opportunity to give her syndicated audience her opinion on such events as the Jon Benet Ramsey murder case, and, of course, one of the biggest race dividers of the 20th century: the O.J. Simpson trial.

When I asked Debbie if I could profile her about her place in black history, she responded that she had to “stop and think about how” she was making her mark. Apparently she didn’t realize how important being the first African-American voice in the on-air co-host spot was during the 90s. At a time when the O.J. Simpson trial was severely dividing the country, all races were glued to their television sets looking for answers and Debbie was there weaving in the voice of African-American experiences before a syndicated market.

Debbie’s influence doesn’t stop on the screen. She was a producer on “The Early Show” on CBS and during her 10 years there she was nominated for an Emmy. After the management changed at “The Early Show,” Debbie realized the culture was shifting and, thus, shifted with it. “Nothing stays the same, so always have a B and C plan,” is one of Debbie’s mottos. So to that end she co-founded The Blogger Connection giving over 6,000 female and male bloggers of all cultures a place where they can amplify their voices through social media. Even if they don’t realize it at the time, history makers are usually the ones that give rise to the possibilities of those that will follow. Debbie is one of these history makers.

Of course, we all have those moments where we took a chance and it changed our lives (at least we should). Debbie’s came when she was working at her first job, a researcher at “Essence, The Television Show” in the 80s. She stole a moment with media-mogul-on-the-rise, Oprah Winfrey (Ms. Winfrey wasn’t even a household name at the time), and got this advice: “You have to love what you do.” Debbie took Oprah’s advice, and as on-air talent, a producer, and now co-founder of a community filled with the new breed of influencers, she is definitely making black history now.

(The above photo features Debbie Mitchell making history on The Geraldo Rivera Show.)

Ella Rucker is an Ohio native who moved to The Big Apple for fame and fortune.  After attending Wright State University for medicine and then working in telecommunications, she finds herself pursuing her dream of writing. She is now a contributor on goodenoughmother.com in that vein and produces for the brand as well. The mother of an amazing two-year-old and surrogate to a few other, Ella is enjoying a life of watching the dreams she envisioned for her life unfold, even if they are taking the scenic route. Her writing can also be found on mochamanual.com.

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