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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 05 January 2006

Portland-based poet, activist and newspaper columnist S. Renee Mitchell has been selected to receive the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. Mitchell, named as one of "21 Leaders for the 21st Century," will receive the award during a gala ceremony in New York City on May 16. Past winners include actress/activist Jane Fonda; Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize; Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi of Iran, the first woman to hold a ministerial cabinet post in the United Arab Emirates; and Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, co-founder of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. The international award is offered by Women's eNews, a New York-based global online magazine. It selected the 21 award winners from hundreds of nominations of passionate trailblazers — all over the world — who "stand out for their extraordinary visions and commitment to working on behalf of women." "In a year where many believe there has been a profound scarcity of leadership, it is thrilling to once again find so many women and men who are dedicated to expanding values that cherish the lives of women," Women's eNews Editor-in-Chief Rita Henley Jensen said on the magazine's Web site. Mitchell, who was nominated last year for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, silently suffered from psychological abuse for several years. Now, she intends to spend the rest of her life educating other women about it and then helping them heal from it. A performance artist, Mitchell recently performed her poetry with a six-piece band that included relocated musicians from New Orleans. The Dec. 3 event raised more than $3,000 for Bradley-Angle House, the West Coast's oldest domestic-violence shelter. "I've never experienced anything like her presentation," said musician and activist Larry Wilder, leader of the Columbia Cutups bluegrass band. "It was thought-provoking, deeply creative and heartfelt." Last year, Mitchell directed, produced and performed her second play, Tangoing With Tornadoes, at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center in North Portland. As a part of Mitchell's women's empowerment project, she also published a book of poetry, released a CD of her poetry set to music and finished her first novel. "I am honored to receive this amazing award," said Mitchell, who is also a publisher, playwright, college professor, jewelry maker and single mother of three children. "If women need to hear my story to have the courage to tell their own, then so be it. With God's help, let healing begin with my shoulder." Emotional and verbal abuse is a pattern of behavior committed by one partner against the other with the goal of exerting and maintaining power. For the victim, it saps their energy, compromises their health and erodes their self-esteem. It also puts women at a greater risk for other mental health problems, such as depression, suicide and alcohol and drug abuse. The words of one of Mitchell's poems, titled "Hit Me," stem from her own experience with emotional and verbal abuse: "You don't have to hit me to hurt me My internal pain will last eternally You don't have to say those words to make yourself heard You're giving me treatment that I don't deserve You don't have to hit me." To find out more about the annual award or Women's eNews, visit www.womensenews.org.

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