Skip to main content

FunTimes Magazine

Congresswoman Adams

By Ayana Jones

U.S. Rep. Alma S. Adams is passionate about advocating for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). When she spoke thduring Lincoln University's 159 Commencement ceremony, Dr. Adams delivered a message that left graduates feeling empowered and ready to take on the world. During her address, the congresswoman spoke about her humble beginnings in Newark, N.J.

“I shared my story with you to let you know that where you start out in life doesn’t determine where you end up or how far you can go,” Dr. Adams told the graduates. “Only you can determine your destiny, Lincoln has prepared you well for what lies ahead.

“Generations of students from all backgrounds have come to this school to be challenged and inspired and they’ve gone on to be leaders here in Pennsylvania, and around the world running businesses and educating young people and leading the high-tech industries that will power our economy for decades to come.”

During an interview with FunTimes, Dr. Adams shared her insights about HBCUs. She earned both her bachelor’s and graduate degrees from North Carolina A&T State University – an HBCU in Greensboro, N.C. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in art education from Ohio State University.

U.S. Rep. Adams represents 770,000 residents in North Carolina’s 12th district and sits on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Agriculture Committee, the Small Business Committee and the Joint Economic Committee. She is the founder of the first-ever Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus and has spearheaded legislation to boost funds for these institutions.

Dr. Adams knows that she didn’t get where she is today by chance or luck, but by hard work and by the grace of having been given a chance to attend college. She has walked up and down Capitol Hill many times with the thinking skills and values she gained from attending an HBCU.

Dr. Adams acknowledges that an HBCU made an investment in her, when other schools would not have.“My SATs were not at the top, but HBCUs looked at everything and they provided the resources that I needed when I started and I'm not ashamed to say that,” she said.

“I took three remedial courses to get prepared and then stayed on the honor roll. They made sure I had the right tutors … an investment in me. HBCU’s are specialists at taking care of students

like us. You cannot get at a [Predominately White Institution] what you can get an HBCU.”

“Alums and graduate students currently enrolled, need to help tell that story,” Dr. Adams said. “We make up only 30 percent of the colleges and universities and we produce more than 50 percent of the African American teachers and engineers, so we've got a great success story.”

FunTimes is one of 19 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on the city’s push towards economic justice. This reporting was made possible with support from Resolve Philadelphia. To read more of our reporting please go to <>