Bernice Compton Mitchell was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in New Orleans and eventually moved with her family to Stillwater in 1967. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1978 from Oklahoma State University.
After graduating, Mitchell served as bailiff for a district judge in Stillwater, and later as his administrative assistant.
Mitchell was elected as Payne County Commissioner, District 2, in 1986, making her the first African American woman elected as County Commissioner in Payne County, Oklahoma, and only the second African American woman to serve in this position in the state of Oklahoma. She served in this position until 1996.
Mitchell has served as chair of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women as well as President of the Oklahoma Women’s Political Caucus. She chaired the regional board of Action, Inc., serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Commissions for Women, and has been involved in many other community organizations. She is currently chairman of the Payne County Democrats.
Mitchell was inducted in the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995.
She is married to Earl Mitchell; they have three children and five grandchildren.
(Bio current as of 2008)