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Dolly Adams

Nonprofit executive Dolly Desselle Adams was born in Marksville, Louisiana on August 13, 1931, the only child of Moses J. Following her graduation from of Xavier University Preparatory High School in New Orleans, Adams enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she received her B.S. degree. Adams went on to earn her M.A. degree in education from the University of Michigan, and her Ph.D degree in education from Baylor University.

As an educator, Adams has held a variety of positions, including elementary school teacher and administrator; college dean and Professor at the University of Michigan, Wilberforce University, Albany State College, Paul Quinn College, and Howard University School of Law. Adams last served as an adjunct professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. She has also held outstanding leadership positions in community service organizations. Her role as Episcopal Supervisor of the Women’s Missionary Society (WMS) and the Ministers’ Wives of the Tenth (Texas), Second (Mid-Atlantic States), Sixth (Georgia) and Seventh (South Carolina) and Eleventh (Florida and Bahamas) Episcopal Districts covered a span of 32 years. Adams served for four years as National President of The Links, Inc., and The Links Foundation, Inc., and five years as National President of the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. In addition, Adams served on the board of directors of the United Negro College Fund, Paul Quinn College Foundation, the Southern University Foundation and the sisters of Charity Foundation. Adams now serves on the Board of Directors of the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc., the WMS Foundation and the Links, Inc.

From 1982-86, Adams was cited as one of the “100 Most Influential Black Americans” by Ebony Magazine, and Dollars & Sense Magazine named her as one of the “Top 100 Black Business and Professional Women” 1986 and 1987. Adams is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the N.A.A.C.P. In recognition of her services in South Carolina, the Governor presented to her the Order of the Palmetto, the highest citation given by the State to a citizen.

Adams and her husband, Reverend John Hurst Adams, live in Atlanta, Georgia. They are the parents of three successful daughters: Attorney Gaye Adams Massey, Dr. Jann Adams, and Madelyn R. Adams

Dolly Desselle Adams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.246

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/13/2012

Last Name

Adams

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Schools

St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory Academy

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

University of Michigan

Southern University Laboratory School

Baylor University

First Name

Dolly

Birth City, State, Country

Marksville

HM ID

ADA12

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kiawah Island, South Carolina, Ft Walton, Florida

Favorite Quote

Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of God, And His Righteousness; And All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/13/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Gumbo (Seafood)

Short Description

Educator and nonprofit chief executive Dolly Adams (1931 - ) served as the national president of The Links and the Black Women’s Agenda.

Employment

New Orleans Public Schools

University of Michigan

Wilberforce University

Albany State College

Paul Quinn College

Seattle Public Schools

Head Start

Neuropsychiatric Institute

Howard University Law School

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams describes her father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams describes her parents' personalities and her likeness to them

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams describes her education in Marksville, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dolly Adams remembers her educational influences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams recalls the educational environment at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams remembers the Xavier University Preparatory School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams recalls her graduation from Xavier University Preparatory School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams recalls the mentorship of Professor Julia Purnell

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams remembers the end of World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams remembers the marching band at Southern University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams remembers substitute teaching in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams recalls her decision to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams remembers segregation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams recalls working at the Neuropsychiatric Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dolly Adams recalls joining the faculty of Wilberforce University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams remembers Wilberforce University President Charles Leander Hill

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams remembers meeting her husband, Bishop John Hurst Adams

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams recalls moving to Waco, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams talks about the desegregation of Waco, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams talks about the desegregation of Waco, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams describes her role as the dean of students at Paul Quinn College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams lists the schools affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams remembers moving to Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams describes her husband's education

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams recalls the reprisals against her civil rights activism

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dolly Adams remembers the Black Panther Party in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Dolly Adams remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams talks about the renaming of King County, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams describes the Grant A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams describes the founding of The Links

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams talks about the activities of The Links

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams describes her duties and mentors in the church

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams talks about female preachers in the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams recalls her husband's election as bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams describes her doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams talks about the benefits of online universities

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams recalls her experiences at Baylor University in Waco, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams talks about her work with Planned Parenthood in Waco, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams recalls teaching at the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams remembers moving to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams describes her community involvement in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams recalls traveling to Kenya with The Links

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams describes The Links' international presence

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams remembers writing 'She in the Glass House'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams remembers living in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams talks about the Gullah culture

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams describes the services in the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams describes her work in Charleston, South Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams describes her work in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams describes the Black Women's Agenda

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams describes her activities during retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$10

DATitle
Dolly Adams talks about the desegregation of Waco, Texas, pt. 1
Dolly Adams recalls the reprisals against her civil rights activism
Transcript
Waco [Texas] was a nice, very segregated country town, but here again, we had our own system of, of survival. When, when Waco dec- dec- well, when we decided--when integration came, one of the first places that was picketed was across the street from the campus [Paul Quinn College, Waco, Texas; Dallas, Texas]. It was a little store, a little--one of those 7-Eleven stores, which would not employ any of our students, but nobody bought anything in there except black folk, kids from the campus or people who lived around the campus. So, we--I was on the picket line and, of course, they picket--our kids picketed downtown. I remember they called my husband [HistoryMaker Bishop John Hurst Adams] and said--the mayor called and told him, "Come get your, your students. They're sitting out here at one of these lunch counters." He said, "Well, if you fed them--they probably can't even afford to pay for the Coke, so if you, you offer to them, you would--you would be able to get rid of them. Otherwise, they can stay there until you decide, you know, what you're gonna do." And he said, "Well, we'll put them in jail." He said, "And I'll come get them out of jail and they'll be back there tomorrow." So, they--Waco was one of those towns that was very pragmatic and they really did not want all of that. So, they asked my husband to come down and talk with them and they ended by fiat, the may--the mayor integrated all of the downtown eating facilities the next day.$$Yeah. Now, I've heard a few stories like this where segregation seems like it's hard, a hard line until somebody challenges it and it fades.$$Well, the truth of the matter was we lived in separate enclaves anyway. We weren't all over town, but to say--it's--it was stupid to say here is a store in the middle, next door to your house and you can go in and buy in that store, you can keep him in business, but you cannot--they will not employ--they bring in people to employ, won't employ any of your kids.$$Okay. So, now, now were you or your husband a member of NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] or the--$$Oh, yeah.$$Okay.$$I was very active in the NA--NAACP. I was the secretary at that time and that's another interesting story. I had teachers in the public schools of, of Waco who would give me their dues, but I was--they would tell me, "You cannot report my name. You can--I will give you the money, but don't ever tell them who gave it to you."$$Okay, so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So, I, I, I collected a whole lot of money from people. They were afraid of their jobs. They didn't know what was gonna happen if they found out they were NAACP. But, because we worked for a black church, there was nothing they could do to us.$Back to our time in Seattle [Washington]. Our time in Seattle was marvelous, but it was also tumultuous because those marches, while they didn't make the kind of publicity that, that King's [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] did down here, they were life changing there. As a matter of fact, my, my children were in school and we became targets. There was a racist who used to call me every night. He seemed to know when my husband [HistoryMaker Bishop John Hurst Adams] was gone. He'd be at church or at some meeting, and he would call and make threats and, you know, "What do you niggers want?" And, "Why, why are you doing this?" And I was trying very hard to be conciliatory and I would speak to him very nicely until one Sunday night he called and he said, "Yeah, you've got two daughters, three daughters, one is Gaye [Gaye Adams Massey] and one is Jann [Jann H. Adams] and they're at McGilvra [McGilvra Elementary School, Seattle, Washington]," it was a elementary school, "and Madelyn [Madelyn R. Adams] is in a Montessori school," and our telephone was tapped. We knew this. The police put a tap on the telephone because they knew they'd been calling and stuff, and I lost it. I promised all sorts of things I was gonna do to that man if he--if he touched my children. So, the next morning, the police came to see me and said, "Ms. Adams [HistoryMaker Dolly Adams], do you have a gun?" I said, "No." The man said, "Well, you need one. After what you told him, he just may come after you." So, they took me down to the police department, they gave me a gun, took me to the firing range and taught me how to use it, gave me the ammunition and told me if he comes up those stairs or gets anyplace near your children, feel free to shoot him and I promised I would. I never had to, praise the Lord, but I had every intention of doing so.