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Paul Adams, III

Born September 14, 1940, Paul Joseph Adams III learned the value of education from his parents, Patsy Lois and Paul Adams, Jr., who enrolled him in private elementary and high schools in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. After receiving a B.A. from Alabama State University, Adams moved north to Chicago, where he worked in mental health education while earning his M.A. in psychology from Northeastern Illinois University.

In 1971, Adams was hired as director of guidance for Providence-St. Mel School, a private Catholic high school in Chicago. He became the school's principal a year later. When the Archdiocese of Chicago withdrew funding for the school in 1978, Adams spearheaded a national campaign to raise money for the school. In response to his publicity-seeking efforts and the support of the Providence-St. Mel students and community, the school received local and national media attention. Donations poured in from across the country, and Adams transitioned Providence-St. Mel into a not-for-profit independent school.

At Providence-St. Mel, Adams focused on developing a strong academic standard while enforcing strict disciplinary codes. To guarantee the safety of his students, he moved into the vacant convent inside the school to ward off thieves and vandals. His dedication became legendary and during the next two decades, Adams successfully transformed Providence-St. Mel into a premier learning institution for African American students.

Since 1996, Adams has served as president of Providence-St. Mel School, managing an annual budget in excess of $6 million. He is still very active in planning the curriculum for the school, which has expanded to include elementary and middle grades. Under Adams' leadership, every one of Providence-St. Mel's graduating seniors has been accepted to institutions of higher learning.

Adams has received numerous awards for his efforts, including the McDonald's Education Achievement Award, the African-American Male Image Award, the Rozell R. Nesbitt Community Education Award, and four honorary doctorates. Adams was named an American Hero in Education by Reader's Digest and was voted Man of the Year by the Chicago Urban League.

Accession Number

A2003.307

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

3/11/2003

Last Name

Adams

Maker Category
Middle Name

J.

Schools

Alabama State University Laboratory School

Southern Normal School

Alabama State University

Northeastern Illinois University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Montgomery

HM ID

ADA02

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

Make a way or find a way.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/14/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pork Chops

Short Description

Civil rights activist and high school principal Paul Adams, III (1940 - ) is the founding director of the independent Providence-St. Mel High School.

Employment

Providence St. Mel High School

Jack-in-the-Box Restaurant (1969 - 1972)

Chicago State Hospital

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paul Adams's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paul Adams's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paul Adams discusses his family's geographical origins

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paul Adams describes his attempts to research his background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paul Adams tells of conflicting stories in his genealogical research

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paul Adams mentions two tragic family stories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paul Adams remembers his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paul Adams mentions his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paul Adams remembers his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Paul Adams describes his childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Paul Adams remembers nostalgic smells from childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Paul Adams describes his childhood community

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Paul Adams as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Paul Adams discusses his mentors

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Paul Adams mentions his childhood schools

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Paul Adams as a high school student

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Paul Adams describes why he does not attend church

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Paul Adams reflects on his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Paul Adams discusses Mr. E. D. Nixon

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paul Adams discusses the planning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paul Adams discusses his experience of the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paul Adams describes how Emmitt Till's death and television influenced the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paul Adams meets Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paul Adams remembers mass meetings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paul Adams rides the buses after the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paul Adams reflects on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Paul Adams discusses Robert Nesbitt

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Paul Adams explains his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Paul Adams attend Alabama State University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Paul Adams is expelled from Alabama State University

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Paul Adams talks about youth in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Paul Adams mentions Civil Rights Movement organizers

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Paul Adams returns to Alabama State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paul Adams moves to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paul Adams describes his work for the Chicago State Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paul Adams discusses his impression of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paul Adams looks for a job in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paul Adams goes into business

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paul Adams remembers the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paul Adams recalls his last interaction with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Paul Adams describes the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Paul Adams reflects on the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Paul Adams returns to Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Paul Adams leaves Jack N' the Box

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Paul Adams provides a brief history of Providence-St. Mel

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Paul Adams restructures Providence-St. Mel

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paul Adams fights to keep Providence-St. Mel open

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paul Adams turns Providence-St. Mel into an independent school

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paul Adams discusses an anonymous donation to Providence-St. Mel

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paul Adams discusses public education

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paul Adams discusses Providence-St. Mel students

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paul Adams describes his simple education technique

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paul Adams describes Providence-St. Mel's assessment process

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Paul Adams emphasizes early exposure for students

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Paul Adams discusses parental involvement and continued growth at Providence-St. Mel

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Paul Adams discusses his religious affiliation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Paul Adams discusses value education

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paul Adams disagrees with closing schools on Martin Luther King's holiday

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paul Adams discusses teacher and student role models

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paul Adams describes his philosophy of education

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paul Adams discusses Providence-St. Mel School alumni

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paul Adams discusses his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paul Adams talks about the failures of the educational system

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Paul Adams discusses restructuring public education

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Paul Adams describes Providence-St. Mel School's high expectations

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Paul Adams discusses the balance between academics and athletics

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Paul Adams discusses the racial makeup of Providence-St. Mel School

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Paul Adams explains how strict rules eliminate behavior problems

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Paul Adams explains the curriculum of Providence-St. Mel School

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Paul Adams discusses the financial difficulties of Providence-St. Mel School

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Paul Adams discusses Providence-St. Mel School's teachers

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Paul Adams describes his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Paul Adams describes how he wants to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Photo -- Paul Adams's First Grade Picture in Montgomery, Alabama (1946)

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo -- Paul Adams as President of Providence-St. Mel School

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo -- Paul Adams as Infant (1940)

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo -- Paul Adams and Jeanette DiBella, Principal of Providence-St. Mel School (circa 2000)

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo -- Paul Adams (circa 1958)

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photo -- Paul Adams (1963)

Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo -- Paul Adams Calling Bingo Numbers for Fundraiser (late 1970s)

Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo -- Paul Adams (1996)

Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo -- Paul Adams and President Ronald Reagan, Among Others (1983)

Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo -- Paul Adams (1979)

Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo -- Paul Adams and Parents Protesting the Closure of Providence-St. Mel School (1978)

Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Photo -- Paul Adams Teaching Guidance (late 1970s)

Tape: 6 Story: 21 - Photo -- Paul Adams in 'People Magazine' (1978)

Tape: 6 Story: 22 - Photo -- Paul Adams (Mar 1965)

Tape: 6 Story: 23 - Photo -- Paul Adams and President Ronald Reagan

Tape: 6 Story: 24 - Newspaper Advertisement -- Paul Adams and Providence-St. Mel School Students in Wall Street Journal (Jun 1978)

Tape: 6 Story: 25 - Photo -- Paul Adams with Reverend Jesse Jackson and Providence-St. Mel School Alumna, Monica Thorns (1983)

Tape: 6 Story: 26 - Photo -- Paul Adams with Daughter, Bridget (circa 2002)