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Norma Adams-Wade

Journalist Norma Adams-Wade was born in Dallas, Texas to Frank and Nettie Adams. She attended public schools and graduated from Lincoln High School in South Dallas, Texas. Adams-Wade went on to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966 with her B.S. degree in journalism. She also pursued graduate studies at Amber University in Garland, Texas and completed the Institute for Journalism Education’s summer editor training program at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

In 1966, Adams-Wade was hired by Collins Radio Company as a copyeditor for technical equipment manuals in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Apollo Space Program. From 1968 to 1972, she worked for Bloom Advertising Agency as an advertising copywriter and production assistant. From 1972 until 1974, she served as a reporter and editor’s assistant at The Dallas Post Tribune. Then, in 1974, Adams-Wade was hired as the first African American full-time general reporter for The Dallas Morning News, where she has served as a senior staff writer and columnist. As a senior staff writer, she covered general assignments, federal courts, consumer affairs, ethnic affairs, and neighborhood news. Adams-Wade created The Dallas Morning News’ Black History Month series in 1985, and, in 1988, helped launch The News’ Metro South Bureau. She retired from her position in 2002, but has continued to work as a contract columnist.

Adams-Wade was a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in 1975. She was also the founding director of NABJ’s Region VII, a founding coordinator of Blacks in Mass Media of Dallas and Fort Worth, and served as scholarship chair for the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators. Adams-Wade is a lifelong member of Mt. Horeb Missionary Baptist Church in South Dallas, where she has served as a chair soloist, Sunday School and Baptist Training Union pianist, Junior Church director, and member of the church Scholarship Committee. She also founded the church’s Save the Children family organization that offers parent training seminars.

Adams-Wade’s many awards and honors include the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators’ Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bronze Heritage Award for preservation of African American history, Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas’ “She Knows Where She’s Going” Award, the NAACP Dallas Chapter’s Juanita Craft Award, the Dallas Urban League’s Legacy Award, The Dallas Morning News Joe Dealey Publisher’s Award, the Southeast Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club’s “Dreammaker” Award, the Top Ladies of Distinction’s Humanitarian Award, the St. Phillip’s School and Community Center’s Destiny Award, and the Maurine F. Bailey Cultural Foundation’s first outstanding community service award.

Adams-Wade lives in Dallas, Texas.

Norma Adams-Wade was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 6, 2014 and March 14, 2017.

Accession Number

A2014.083

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/6/2014 |and| 3/14/2017

3/6/2014

3/14/2017

Last Name

Adams-Wade

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

H S Thompson Elementary

Lincoln High School

University of Texas at Austin

University of North Texas

The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

Amberton University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Norma

Birth City, State, Country

Dallas

HM ID

ADA13

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Country Setting

Favorite Quote

As you leave this place remember why you came

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/14/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Spaghetti and Cornbread

Short Description

Journalist Norma Adams-Wade (1944 - ) was the first African American full-time general reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She was a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), as well as the founding director of NABJ’s Region VII.

Employment

The Dallas Morning News

Institute for Journalism Education

The Dallas Post Tribune

Bloom Advertising Agency

Collins Radio Co.

The Daily Texan Student Newspaper, U TX

Dallas Post Tribune

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Norma Adams-Wade's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Norma Adams-Wade lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her family's roots in East Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the Juneteenth tradition in Mexia, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the history and genealogy of black families in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the significance of the Juneteenth tradition

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Norma Adams-Wade describes her mother's upbringing, and the traditions of her mother's family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Norma Adams-Wade describes her mother's upbringing, and the traditions of her mother's family, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her mother's job at a beauty parlor in an affluent white neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Norma Adams-Wade compares the personalities of her mother, aunts, and grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her father's opportunity to play baseball in the Negro League

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Norma Adams-Wade gives a summary of her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her father's military service during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her father's education and career with the U.S. Postal Service after World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Norma Adams-Wade describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her sister, Doris Adams Serrell

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Norma Adams-Wade describes her childhood household

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Norma Adams-Wade describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her family moving out of her grandparents' home into their own home

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Norma Adams-Wade describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the role of the church in her community

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her experiences in elementary school, and early influences in literature and writing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about a pivotal moment that shaped her character and influenced her writing

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about television shows in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about what influenced her to become a reporter and meeting her mentor, Julia Scott Reed, in the early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her experiences at Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Norma Adams-Wade recounts running for Ms. Lincoln at Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about a childhood friend who had polio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her father's reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about race relations in Dallas, Texas and the arrest local civil rights leader Ernest McMillan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the black press in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about race relations and her experiences at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her decision to attend the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Norma Adams-Wade describes her experiences with integration at the University of Texas at Austin seeing Marian Anderson perform

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about being a black student at the University of Texas at Austin in the late 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the professors who influenced her at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Norma Adams-Wade compares courses at the University of Texas at Austin with those at Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her first attempt to work for 'The Dallas Morning News'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her summer internships at the 'The Dallas Post Tribune' and her first job at Collins Radio Company

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the Charles Whitman shooting at the University of Texas, Austin, and President Johnson speaking at her graduation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about her personal philosophy as a reporter

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about working for The Sam Bloom Agency

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about working at The Dallas Post Tribune

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Norma Adams-Wade talks about the news article that got her hired at 'The Dallas Morning News'

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$9

DATitle
Norma Adams-Wade talks about the professors who influenced her at the University of Texas at Austin
Norma Adams-Wade talks about the news article that got her hired at 'The Dallas Morning News'
Transcript
Alright. Okay so you said that you were--who were some of your favorite teachers or role models at the University of Texas [Austin]?$$Well, the one that comes to mind is Professor Gardiner, I forget her last name but she was a former military person and that's the way she lived her life. Very, very authoritative and I remember one of her rules was that no matter how good your writing was, if you misspelled one word, you got an automatic F. She was a little person about my size, an Anglo but very authoritative. And boy she ran her classroom like a military operation and we were terrified of her and terrified of misspelling a word because nobody wanted to get an automatic F. And, so she really sticks out in my mind because it really taught me to be at my best and I was always a very perfectionist type person, that's a syndrome, I guess perfectionist syndrome. And I don't thing I ever got an F but I was terrified of getting an F and she's just a-professor Gardiner is just a real big memory. Now, oh gosh I'm embarrassed, I just forgot his name but one of the deans of the journalism school and I'm embarrassed that I've forgotten his name but he sticks out because he was a person I could--I went to, I guess, a couple of times and--for just kind of counsel on what to do about difficult subjects that I was wrestling with. I remember I wrestle with government and never made good grades but I managed to get out of government and--oh I'm embarrassed I can't remember his name.$$He was the dean of journalism?$$Right, and he was big in my life at the time and he was a very empathetic person, Anglo. But he was a good listener and he would just listen and he was not judgmental and he was very helpful to me and so I had an emotional tie to him because he helped me. I felt that he was a life line and I remember when it was graduation time, I wasn't sure, I was sweating one of those courses and it was something like a government course. I was sweating it and whether I would be able to graduate and I mean it was eleventh hour. My parents [Frank McLeod Adams and Nettie Ivory Adams] had come to town and my dad had told me, chief I don't know if I'd be able to economically do this--continue to do this. You're really going to have to come out and so I was sweating graduation. And, so they were already in town and I went to the dean and he did tell me that I made it and I remember going back to the co-op house and when I told my dad, he went out on the porch and he walked to the balcony of it and he looked up and I could just see him--my dad was not really a demonstrative religious person, my mom was. But I could tell that he was thanking God that his daughter was going to graduate and I just remember this scene of seeing him standing there, his back was turned to me and he just had his quiet time there on the porch. And I could tell that it was a load off his shoulders because I can imagine he was saying if she doesn't come out of here, what are we going to do. I guess whatever finances in the family were going on he knew that he just couldn't financially do it anymore. And so when I graduated, it was just a big relief and I remember the scene of him out there on the porch and I graduated. It was a close call but the dean was the one who gave me the news that I had made it.$Now Buster Haas who was he now?$$He was over hiring in the newsroom. He was an exec in the newsroom.$$This was in Dallas [Texas]?$$'The Dallas Morning News.' So there was a series of murders in the black community. Convenient store owners were being murdered and it was a big story. So this would have been the early '70s [1970s] and it was affecting the city because whites were being killed too but it was largely happening in a lot of stores in the black community but white store owners were being killed. 'The Morning News' wanted to cover the story and they needed someone within the community--they wanted to do a piece that told how this series of murders was affecting not only the city but the black community as well. Somehow Buster--I guess--well I had applied for it so Buster Haas knew of me and he really did have my interest at heart. Buster Haas was a good person. He was a great person. He reminded me of my dean back in school, same personality and I think he really did look for an opportunity to get me in. So anyway they wanted to do this story and so, you know, the story is opportunity doesn't knock on your door, you have to go out and get it. Opportunity came to my house, Buster Haas came to my house where I lived and knocked on my door and told me they wanted to do this piece and that I could do it as a freelance writer and I went out and interviewed a lot of people in the community, store owners and neighborhood people and put the story together and did it and submitted it and it ran banner across page one and I was hired that week and that's how I got hired because they were very impressed with the story and the perspective that I was able to bring to it. The value of being an African American reporter was that I could get into the community, I knew where the bodies--well not the literal bodies were buried, bad pun but I knew where all the players were and I could get to them and that's what I did. So they saw my value and I was hired and that's how I got on, that's how I got hired.$$Did the police ever solve the case?$$I don't remember who it was but the case was ultimately solved. That's a good question, I'd like to back and research that but it took--I remember it took awhile because when it was happening, I mean nobody had a clue and I did not do the final story, whoever did the final story I don't know it would be good to research that. But my story was to give the inside view, the view from inside the community which is what I did.$$Okay what did the community think about that?$$Everybody was terrified, mystified, baffled, terrified, scared. It was a scary situation because nobody knew where they would strike next. People were serious; they were killing the store owners, the clerks. They were killing clerks not store owners but the clerks. A lot of owners did clerk their own stores.$$Were they being robbed or just killed?$$They would rob them and shoot them, fatally shoot them.