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Edward Adams

Edward Beverle Adams was born on January 31, 1939, in New York City to Clarence and Ernesta Adams. Adams attended the New York City Public Schools and in 1952 integrated the privileged Horace Mann School. Adams graduated at age sixteen and entered New York University’s College of Engineering from which he received his B.S. degree in industrial engineering in 1959. Adams did graduate work in industrial engineering at Polytechnic University Brooklyn and attended graduate school at the University of Vermont, majoring in business administration. Adams was also an alumnus of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, from which he received the Stanford Sloan Executive Fellowship.

In 1964, Adams began his career at IBM as an assistant buyer in Burlington, Vermont, and later advanced to buying and procurement engineering manager. In 1967, he was promoted to Product Industrial Engineer Manager. Adams later became Administrative Assistant to the IBM Director of Manufacturing in Armonk, New York, a position he held for only one year before being named Information Record Division Operations Manager in Boulder, Colorado. In this new position, Adams was responsible for manufacturing and product engineering in magnetic media. Adams left this position in 1973, after receiving the Sloan Fellowship.

In 1975, Adams moved to Austin, Texas, to work in the IBM office as Product-System Manager; he held several leadership positions within IBM including Director of Site Operations, Regional Manager of Corporate Community Relations, and Public Affairs for the Western sites. Adams retired from IBM in 2000 to start his own consulting firm.

Adams was affiliated with various boards and organizations, such as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Higher Education Planning Committee. In 1998, he and his wife, Mary Lou Adams, Ph.D., were honored by the Austin Project for their service to children and families. Adams was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Humane Letters by Houston-Tillotson College in 1989. In addition to his professional activities, Adams also held the positions of lector and Eucharistic lay minister at the St. James Episcopal Church.

Adams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 7, 2007.

Adams passed away on April 8, 2008 at age 69.

Accession Number

A2007.053

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

2/7/2007

Last Name

Adams

Maker Category
Middle Name

Beverle

Schools

P.S. 184

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. School,

J.H.S. 43

Horace Mann School

New York University

University of Vermont

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

ADA09

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Northern California

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/31/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Italian Food, Caribbean Food

Death Date

4/8/2008

Short Description

Business consultant and corporate executive Edward Adams (1939 - 2008 ) worked with IBM for over three decades, working his way up from assistant buyer to such high-ranking positions as Director of Site Operations, Regional Manager of Corporate Community Relations, and Public Affairs for the Western sites.

Employment

International Business Machines (IBM)

County Machine Company

U.S. Time Corporation

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward Adams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward Adams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward Adams describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward Adams describes how his parents came to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward Adams describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward Adams talks about his home life

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward Adams remembers the Harlem neighborhood of New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward Adams describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward Adams recalls his childhood friends

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward Adams remembers his elementary school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Edward Adams describes the community in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Edward Adams describes his parents' occupations and education

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Edward Adams recalls his junior high school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Edward Adams remembers the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Edward Adams recalls his childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Edward Adams talks about growing up in New York City during World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Edward Adams describes his experiences of discrimination at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward Adams recalls his teachers at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward Adams recalls the athletics program at the Horace Mann School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward Adams describes his early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward Adams recalls his first year at the New York University College of Engineering

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward Adams describes the nightlife in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward Adams remembers visiting the cultural institutions of New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward Adams remembers pledging to the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Edward Adams recalls his decision to study industrial engineering

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Edward Adams recalls his work as a camp counsellor at the YMCA

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Edward Adams talks about his early work experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Edward Adams recalls his initial rejection from IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward Adams recalls joining the staff of IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward Adams talks about his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward Adams recalls the mentorship of H. Lawrence McCrorey

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward Adams shares a story about his friend, Wylie Namar

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward Adams recalls his activism in Burlington, Vermont

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward Adams recalls his work to recruit black employees at IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edward Adams describes his role at the IBM facility in Burlington, Vermont

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edward Adams recalls his position as an executive assistant at IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edward Adams recalls his business trips abroad with IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Edward Adams talks about being drafted into the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Edward Adams recalls his mentorship of black students in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Edward Adams talks about his children

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward Adams recalls his nomination to the Sloan Master's Program

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward Adams describes the Sloan Master's Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward Adams recalls his roles at the IBM facility in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward Adams describes his civic involvement in Austin, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward Adams describes his civic involvement in Austin, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward Adams recalls his position as manager of external programs for IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edward Adams describes his role as a corporate community relations manager

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Edward Adams describes his work for IBM in South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Edward Adams recalls his travels

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Edward Adams recalls his appointment to the Texas Workforce Investment Council

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward Adams describes his education reform activism in Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edward Adams describes his involvement with the Boule

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edward Adams talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edward Adams recalls suffering a house fire

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edward Adams describes his involvement at St. James' Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edward Adams describes the congregation of St. James' Episcopal Church

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Edward Adams talks about his role as senior warden of St. James' Episcopal Church

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Edward Adams reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Edward Adams shares a message to future generations, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Edward Adams shares a message to future generations, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Edward Adams narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

17$8

DATitle
Edward Adams describes his experiences of discrimination at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, New York
Edward Adams describes his work for IBM in South Africa
Transcript
Let's go onto your high school days at Horace Mann [Horace Mann School, Bronx, New York].$$Okay.$$Now, you were considered very bright in your school before going to Horace Mann. When you get there, are there other students now competition becomes--$$Oh yeah (laughter).$$--greater? Tell me about that?$$Well, it--it's again was a situation where I was the only black person in the--in the--in the grade. And all my friends were either very bright or--or very--either very bright or very rich (laughter), okay, mostly rich. But I made some great friends there. In fact, I just came back in October from our--October 2005 from our fiftieth anniversary. And that graduating class, I think, had 101, 102 in--in the class. And I think we had about sixty-five at the reunion. And what I can recall, some interesting things I reflect upon. We--I would study with a fella by the name of Everett Marx [ph.]. And the first time I went to study at his house, which was in Central Park West [New York, New York], the doorman told me to use--I had to use the service entrance--elevator. Well he straightened that out, but that was kind of interesting situation. But I had some--some really good friends and I did not experience any from the students, any racial harm--you know, problems. Interesting story, I played football and I was not the fastest runner in the world. And the coach came over to me one day and said, "Ed [HistoryMaker Edward Adams], what's wrong with you?" I said, "What do you mean coach?" He said, "Well most colored guys I know can run like greased lightning," (laughter). And then I had, I think I--I had some teachers, who in retrospect, who I think, particularly a biology teacher named Mr. Moody [ph.] who I think had a streak in him that was racist. But, I, I, I, I did not do well in--in there. So I was a mediocre--in Horace Mann, I was a--an average student. But it was a, I think, whe- a really great experience for me. I was exposed to how the wealthy lived. I mean, I went to a house of one of my classmates in Yonkers [New York]. It was the first time I'd ever been in a house where the couch was not against the wall (laughter). So at that--at that point, I think my aspirations became really great in terms of what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to accomplish in life. And when I--I was sixteen at the time of graduation and Horace Mann wanted me to stay another year and they would've, you know, given me a scholarship for another year because I was so young. I told them, "No thanks."$We're still in the '90s [1990s] I think.$$Um-hm.$$In 2000, I'm asked to go to South Africa to help them on their community relations programs and to bring some of the programs that IBM [International Business Machines Corporation] had in the United States to see if they were feasible to do in South Africa and to do them. So, I went over to South Africa and consulted with them. That was a really, really great experience, 'cause I got to go to places that tourists don't go.$$So tell me about the experience?$$Well, I'll tell you, I've never seen so much poverty. And see kids that--the big problem is getting them food so they can perform in school. You go into the townships and the streets aren't paved and there are no street signs to tell you where you are. A lot of h- holdovers, even though it became essentially a new country, but in 1994 there's a lot--a lot of work to be done. I got to, to meet a lot of people. I got to meet a, a Anglo guy who was telling me that--that his company is making a lot of money giving training programs to, to corporations because they lose people so fast to AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome]. Every Saturday somebody going to a funeral. So, there- there's some problems. But there's some bright spots too. There--there's a really emerging middle, middle class and upper middle class, a lot of black owned businesses, a lot of blacks doing very, very well. But in--from the business world and the corporate world, you don't see it very much of it. One of the pleasures I got in, in, in traveling to South Africa was to see a, a man who used to work at IBM, could not go home because if he got home he'd be put in jail because he's one of those student protestors back in the days of the struggle. And he has si- since returned to South Africa and I got to visit with him. The--I got to an IBM--African IBMer that I got to, to work with, Alfred Mandeo [ph.]. Really showed me the roots, showed me, you know, what was going on there. And we had some, some real successes. We put in a program where we put computers that were child, that were child--configured for children. A program called KidSmart [KidSmart Early Learning Program] and we put that in several schools in South Africa and got some, some really good results of this as a result of it. But it was--it was--I, I, I traveled over there, even after I retired, they hi- hired me as a consultant and I did that work until 2003. Took my wife [Mary Louise Adams] over on one trip and so she got to enjoy it a lot more than I did, because you know, when you're over there you're working. I subsequently got to meet Bishop Tutu [Desmond Tutu], actually I met him in New York [New York] at a--at a banquet and had dinner with him, and so I sat at the table with him. So, that was--that was a great situation. Dealt with a lot of the government people in South Africa. They, the government tends to be very much black and Indian, a lot of Indians in the--in the senior management positions in government. A lot of--I think they may still be using punch cards in some of those areas, I mean the backward technology, it's amazing. But it was--it was an interesting experience.