Mizell_Family_article_photoEvery two years, they travel across the country – to Colorado, California, Tennessee, Detroit – for a family reunion.

They proudly play The Jackson Five, Michael Jackson and Ray Charles in their car radios – music their relatives wrote or helped produce.

They place education and professionalism high on their list, and many are graduates of Ivy League schools.

When crises arise, they can count on their family network – more than 200 of them stay connected throughout the nation.

Readily offering advice, they commend each other on their individual achievements, personal responsibility and leadership service to their communities.

With a tradition of more than a century of hard work and perseverance, the Mizells have left a distinctive mark on the history of South Florida, and beyond.

On Saturday, July 31, to celebrate the family legacy for the 42nd consecutive year, Don Mizell, winner of the album of the year Grammy Award in 2005 for his work as a producer on Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company, will place his award and the historic Ivory Mizell Photography Collection on exhibit at the Old Dillard Museum in Fort Lauderdale.

The celebration will be the focus of the 2010 Mizell Reunion in Fort Lauderdale, which takes place from July 29 to Aug. 1.

“The reunions give me a bigger picture of my place in the family universe and a sense of my place in something greater than myself,” Don Mizell said. “In order to achieve something greater you must have a broader vision and purpose.”

Don’s award is just one of the family’s many treasures. Besides their family tree, what links their narratives is a legacy of success against all odds.

The four-day reunion will also celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. Von Mizell, co-founder of the Fort Lauderdale NAACP and Provident Hospital, the first hospital for blacks in Broward County; Isadore Mizell, who built Dania Beach’s first school for blacks; and Fonce Mizell, who for years wrote and produced music at Motown and – together with his brother, Larry – brought the group Taste of Honey to Capitol Records and produced the platinum hit “Boogie Oogie Oogie.”

The ceremony will include a musical “soulful duo” performance by Thom Sessa and Tessi featuring Ray Charles’ music. Frank LoCanto, singer and Becon-TV host, willsing “America the Beautiful.”

Also, there will be guest appearances by Jo Marie Payton, former co-star of “Family Matters,” and Nicole Henry, a rising international jazz star.

Broward County Commissioner Albert Jones will attend the museum ceremony and proclaim July 31, 2010, “Don Mizell Appreciation Day” and “Mizell Family Legacy Appreciation Day.”

As in previous reunions, family spokeswoman Cheryl Mizell said, collaboration and honor hold center stage. Elders will tell family stories that go back to slavery times, and a youth mentoring program will encourage the new generation to follow on the path of their ancestors.

“By bringing accomplishments back to focus, we challenge the next generation to keep on the same path,” said Cheryl Mizell, coordinator for the reunion and host of Community Voices, a public affairs talk show on WEDR 99 JAMZ radio.

“Through them, we will become more of who we are,” she said.

Photo by Elzie Fuller III. Don and Cheryl Mizell

WHAT: Don Mizell Grammy of the Year Exhibit to Honor the Mizell Family.
WHEN: Saturday, July 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WHERE: Old Dillard Museum, 1009 NW 4th street, Fort Lauderdale.
COST: Free and open to the public.

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