Freedom and Democracy Exemplars:
Journeys That Have Culminated; Journeys Still Unfolding."
MRS. VICTORIA JACKSON GRAY ADAMS
(November 5, 1926 - August 12, 2006)
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***HISTORIC 1960s CIVIL RIGHTS/FREEDOM MOVEMENT FIGURE PASSES –
VICTORIA JACKSON GRAY ADAMS***
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One of the towering figures of our nation's 1960s Civil Rights/Freedom Movement Victoria Jackson Gray Adams made transition/passed at her son's home in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday, August 12, 2006. Mrs. Gray Adams was the first woman to run for the United States Senate from Mississippi. Along with Fannie Lou Hamer and Annie Devine, Victoria Jackson Gray Adams was one of the first three African-American women in the history of the United States to be seated as guests on the floor of the U.S. Senate (PLEASE SEE The Congressional Challenge of 1965, Hamer-Gray-Devine.). Mrs. Gray Adams, Mrs. Hamer, and Annie Devine were also the first women in the history of Mississippi to run for U.S. Congress.
One of the earliest and most vigorous supporters of civil rights/human rights activity in Mississippi, Mrs. Gray Adams continued her work in spite of repeated death threats, being shot at, chased by people in cars with guns, threats to kill her family, and other attempts to end her life . She was an ardent supporter of and on the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a National Board Member of his organization, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), during and following Dr. King's presidency. An active participant in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, Mrs. Gray Adams was also a founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), Director of its National Office in Washington, D.C., and a pivotal frontline participant in the historic 1964 Challenge of the National Democratic Party in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Her efforts helped Black people in the South gain the right to vote and be free from a vicious system of segregation and white terrorism; and Mrs. Gray Adams' efforts helped all people have more opportunity to be truly human, whole, healthy, and sane.
Born 5 November 1926, in the African American village of Palmers Crossing, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Victoria Jackson Gray Adams began her Civil Rights/Freedom Movement work teaching voter registration and literacy classes in the early 1960s. After two weeks of increasing steadily in physical strength, with everyone expecting her to begin walking independently at any moment, Mrs. Adams walked suddenly and wonderfully from this Life into the next Life. At 5:40 PM, she flowed peacefully and victoriously into The Complete Presence of The Almighty and was received with dancing and affirmation by the Ancestors. A woman of immense bravery and immeasurable courage, Mrs. Gray Adams persevered, pushed through, and prayed through real threats and great fear; she lived her own adage: “Life shrinks or expands in direct proportion to the courage with which we live it.”
Mrs. Gray Adams' life journey has included teaching in public schools in rural Mississippi; being a young mother, businesswoman, and wife; participating actively in the Thai and American Women's Club while in Bangkok, Thailand; teaching in the Royal Thai Army Languages Academy, Bangkok, Thailand; founding and serving as the first president of the Afro American Women's Club (AAWC) in Bangkok, Thailand; realtor/real estate and marketing, Petersburg, Virginia; being appointed to and serving creatively for eleven years as a member of The Commonwealth/State of Virginia's Fire Services Board; being drafted into service as -- and proving to be enormously effective as -- Campus Minister at Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia; Vice President of the National Board of The Institute for Cultural Affairs/The Ecumenical Institute (North America); being a dedicated, lifetime member of -- and serving on numerous local through conference level Boards and Commissions within -- The United Methodist Church; and teaching and lecturing at Harvard University, Jackson State University, Stanford University, Tougaloo College, The University of Virginia, Iliff School of Theology, Gettysburg College, The University of Southern Mississippi, Northwood Appold Community Academy Public Charter School, Earlham College, SpiritHouse, Phillips-Exeter Academy, University of Michigan; the United Nation's Development Fund for Women; Alex Haley's Farm/The Children's Defense Fund; and hundreds of other local, state, national, and international colleges, universities, and organizations.
As a result of her more than seven decades of contributions to society and the world, Mrs. Gray Adams has received awards, citations, and appreciations too numerous to list. A very brief listing includes: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award; Wilberforce University's Distinguished Alumni Award; The United Methodist Church's highest education award, The John Wesley Award for Education; The Methodist Federation for Social Action's Bishop Leontine Kelly Peace and Justice Award; and The Fannie Lou Hamer Humanitarian Award. A local-and-global woman, with an immediate and long-term vision, Mrs. Victoria Jackson Gray Adams – with clarity and intentionality – gave her life to her family and local people, all over the globe. She was committed profoundly to empowering and elevating local people, because she wanted local people to access and enjoy greater life chances and greater life choices.
Mrs. Gray Adams is featured in numerous Civil Rights films/documentaries/books--including Taylor Branch's Pulitzer Prize winning book, Parting the Waters and his sequel, Pillar of Fire ; Kaye Mills' book, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer ; and numerous other books; the documentary films Citizen King, Eyes on the Prize, and A Century of Women; the Academy Award nominated film, Freedom On My Mind, the recent film, Standing On Our Sisters' Shoulders, and others. Also, Mrs. Gray Adams is the face [at 37 years of age] featured on the central PR/Publicity poster for the said Academy Award nominated film, Freedom On My Mind ; and the same photo graces the cover of the important books Freedom Is A Constant Struggle (edited by Susan Erenrich) and Freedom's Daughters (Lynne Olson).
The daughter of Mack and Annie Mae Ott Jackson, Victoria Jackson graduated from Depriest Consolidated School in Palmer's Crossing (Hattiesburg), Mississippi. She also attended Wilberforce University (Ohio), Tuskegee Institute/University (Alabama), and Jackson State College/University (Mississippi). Her first marriage was to Tony West Gray; and three children came forth during that union -- Georgie Roswitha Gray, Tony West Gray, Jr. (deceased/in transition, 1997), and Cecil Conteen Gray. Her second marriage was to Reuben Earnest Adams, Jr.; the happy couple birthed one child, Reuben Earnest Adams, III. Near the culmination of her Journey, Mrs. Jackson Gray Adams resided in Petersburg, VA with
her husband Reuben; simultaneously, she resided in Baltimore, MD with her son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter (Dr. Cecil Gray, Mrs. Sonya Hunt Gray, and Nettsaanett Victoria Gray, respectfully) and her
husband Reuben. She and Reuben celebrated forty years of marriage on 20 February 2006. What a wonderful and blessed Journey!
COPYRIGHT © 2006 BY CECIL CONTEEN GRAY, PH.D.
Now in transition and full of life among The Living Loving Almighty One and the Ancestors -- and therefore even more able in many ways to catalyze personal, local, national, and global justice, peace, and freedom for all people of all colors, cultures, and countries -- Mrs. Victoria Jackson Gray Adams looks forward to her legacy of bold, creative, courageous service to African American people and all people being carried on by her husband, Reuben E. Adams, Jr.; brother, Glodies C. Jackson (Catherine); daughter, Georgie Rosewitha Gray Dunn Henderson; sons Cecil Conteen Gray (Sonya) and Reuben Ernest Adams, III (Lisa); granddaughters, Lolita Dunn, Tujuana Dunn Frost, Imani Victoria Adams, Nia Lisa Adams, and Nettsaanett Amma Ruvarashe Searcy Merdie Frozene Victoria Hunt Gray; grandsons, Jerome Henderson, Tyrone Henderson, and Reuben Jelani Adams; and many other family members by blood-choice-or-chance; and uncountable friends and colleagues throughout our nation and around the globe.
Mrs. Victoria Jackson Gray Adams had a number of mottos that she recited and lived, including the following:
“When things are not going well, do not cry and complain; instead, be and build the alternative that is needed.”
“I am going to do what The Spirit says do . . .”
Victoria Jackson Gray Adams . . .
A Spiritual Activist
A Spiritual/Social Transformationist
A Loving, Brilliant, Powerful, Low-Profile Giant
for All . . .
She Lives . . .
or, in her own words,
I AM . . .
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COPYRIGHT © 2006 BY CECIL CONTEEN GRAY, PH.D.