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Adams, Alma Shealey (1946-)

Congresswoman Alma Shealey Adams currently represents North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.  She is the 100th woman elected to that legislative body and the second African American woman, after Eva Clayton, to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Congress.  

Born Alma Shealey on May 27, 1946 in High Point, North Carolina, she is the daughter of Benjamin Shealey and Mattie Stokes.  She graduated from West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey in 1964, but returned to North Carolina to attend North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina where she received her B.S. degree in 1968.  In 1972 she earned a master’s degree from the same institution, and in 1981 she received a Ph.D. in Art and Multicultural Education from The Ohio State University.  In 1974 she began what would become a forty-year career as a professor of art history at Bennett College in Greensboro.  

Adams began her political career as the first African American on the Greensboro City School Board, where she served until 1986.  The following year she was elected to the Greensboro City Council, where she remained until her appointment in 1994 to a vacant seat in the North Carolina General Assembly, the state legislature.

Adams was appointed to fill the seat in North Carolina House District 26 that was filled by Herman Gist, who died in office.  She won the primary election against fellow Democrat O.C. Stafford, and in the general election she defeated Republican Roger C. Coffer.  Adams easily defeated other opponents in every two-year election between 1996 and 2012.  

During her time in the North Carolina General Assembly, Adams initiated or supported legislation that promoted the interest of children and families.  She was responsible for pushing legislation that raised the state’s minimum wage, advocated affordable health care, and led affordable house initiatives.  Adams also served as the chairperson of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and the North Carolina

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National Trust for Historic Preservation