CJ Mitchell grew up in northeastern Texas during the Great Depression. At only sixteen years old, in 1947 he graduated from high school and took a job working on the trailer park in North Richland, Washington. Additionally, he worked on a number of segregated building projects, including the construction of the K-Basins at Hanford. At first, he lived in a tent with his relatives in East Pasco. He eventually studied at Columbia Basin College and got a job at one of General Electric’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at Hanford, Washington as the first Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) specialist.
Mitchell, an avid sports enthusiast and coach, was also famous in the Northwest for his work as a sports official.