HHFA's "Sista to Watch" is:HHFA's "Sista To Watch" is:
Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC
Member of Congress
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
Twitter Handle: @RepAdams
About Alma S. Adams, Ph.D.
Dr. Alma S. Adams was elected to her first term representing the 12th Congressional District of North Carolina on November 12, 2014. After winning a special election, Congresswoman Adams was sworn in immediately as the 100th woman elected to Congress, the most in U.S. history.
Throughout her career, Representative Adams has promoted quality education for all students, spearheading legislation to boost funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and provide nutritious breakfasts in schools, while supporting increased pay for teachers. For 40 years, Dr. Adams taught Art History at Bennett College. While at Bennett, she led the effort to increase student civic participation. Dr. Adams coined the phrase “Bennett Belles are Voting Bells” and organized a yearly march to the polls.
In 1994, Representative Adams was appointed by her peers to serve in the North Carolina House District 26 seat. She went on to serve ten terms in the state House. During her tenure, she rose to become the chair of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and was instrumental in passing legislation that improved the climate for quality affordable health care in the state. A working mother of two, Alma pioneered the Displaced Homemakers Bill and successfully spearheaded the state’s first minimum wage increase in nine years.
Before serving as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, Congresswoman Adams became the first African American ever elected to the Greensboro County School Board. It was at that time that she made a lifetime commitment to effecting social change in her community and beyond.
What inspired you to want to work in the political arena?
I got involved in politics because I was tired. Racial inequity, lack of opportunity, sexism...these were things that I encountered on a regular basis. Instead of complaining about it, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I was determined to put my anger into action. I was so inspired by the Greensboro Four and the sit-ins that they lead, that I applied to North Carolina A&T State University. After graduation I got a Masters in Art History and returned to Greensboro where I eventually launched a political career. I was the first Black woman to serve on the City Council. Each step of my career, folks said I couldn't do something. I couldn't be on the School Board, I couldn't be on the City Council, I couldn't be in the General Assembly and I couldn't run for Congress. At 68, I am proud to say that I've done it all. From local politics, all the way to Congress.
What advice do you have for Black women that want to spark change?
Get involved. Get off the sidelines and get engaged in the issues that matter most to you. That's exactly why I launched a political career nearly 30 years go. We need more women of color seated at the decision-making table. African American woman have historically been leaders in our community-based organizations, churches, and government...it's time we return to being just that. Young women need to take a page from the history books and get involved in the issues that matter most to them. I wish that every young woman would find her passion, and her voice.
What do you feel is the single most pressing issue facing Black women today and why?
Inequality. Black women are paid less, and that's a tough pill to swallow considering that families rely on dual incomes. Not only are black women suffering, but so are our families. Paid sick leave and child care tax credits will go a long way for women of color - it will bring us one step closer to upward mobility. We are facing substantial economic inequalities. I stand with the President, it's time to close the gap and level the playing field.
Tell us about a woman mentor that has helped you on your journey?
Evan Hamlin Miler - Eva was an artist and educator from Greensboro. She inspired me to get active and chase my passions. Beyond legislating, art is my passion. Eva inspired me to open an art gallery in Greensboro. She used art to boldly display our cultural history.