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Congressional Record2014/03/06Senate | House | Extensions

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E326]
                  IN HONOR OF OPHELIA DEVORE-MITCHELL

                                  _____
                                 

                      HON. SANFORD D. BISHOP, JR.

                               of georgia

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today to pay tribute to an outstanding and truly one-of-a-kind woman, Dr. Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell. Sadly, Dr. DeVore-Mitchell passed away on Friday, February 28, 2014. A Repast and Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. at the Gallery at Fountain Park in Columbus, Georgia.

Dr. DeVore-Mitchell was widely known as one of our nation's first African-American models and the founder of the first black model agency. She was more well-known in Columbus, Georgia as the longtime owner of the Columbus Times newspaper, which is now owned and operated by her daughter, Ms. Carol Gertjegerdes.

Dr. DeVore-Mitchell was born in 1922 in Edgefield, South Carolina but moved to New York City, where she majored in Mathematics at New York University. At the age of 16, she was working for Ebony magazine and in 1946, she enrolled in the Vogue School of Modeling, which up until then had excluded women of color.

She was acutely aware of how African Americans were stereotypically depicted in the media, and she made it her mission to change this public perception. In 1946, Dr. DeVore-Mitchell opened the Grace del Marco Modeling Agency and in 1948, she founded the Ophelia DeVore School of Self-Development and Modeling. These agencies were pivotal in transforming the social landscape of America by paving the way for African Americans to pursue careers in the fashion and entertainment industries at a time when it was not the norm for black women to be recognized for their beauty.

In 1955, Dr. DeVore-Mitchell and her models made history as the hosts of ABC's “Spotlight on Harlem,” New York's first television program produced by and for African Americans. She went on to produce several other New York cable television shows, including the “Ophelia DeVore Show.” She again made history in 1959 and 1960 when two of her clients, Ms. Cecilia Cooper and Ms. LaJeune Hundley became the first Americans, Black or White, to win titles at the Cannes Film Festival in Paris, France.

Dr. DeVore-Mitchell helped shape the lives and careers of the country's top African-American models and entertainers. She has received more than 300 awards and honors over her lifetime and in 1985, she was appointed by President Reagan to the John F. Kennedy Center Committee on the Arts. In addition to her accomplishments in modeling and producing, Dr. DeVore-Mitchell was a newspaper owner and publisher, business executive, and consultant.

Maya Angelou once said, “In diversity, there is beauty and there is strength. We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of that tapestry are equal in value no matter their color.” Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell used beauty as a public platform to address injustice and prejudice, blazing a trail for countless others along the way. By challenging the status quo and championing diversity, she helped to ensure that future generations would enjoy a robust and truly unique American culture that recognizes all members of society.

Mr. Speaker, today I ask my colleagues to join me, my wife, Vivian, and the nearly 700,000 people in Georgia's Second Congressional District in paying tribute to Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell for her numerous outstanding achievements and her everlasting dedication to promoting African-American power, pride, and presence. May her family members and friends be consoled and comforted by the knowledge that she made a great difference in this world and helped to build a better, more equitable America. ____________________


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