Building named after first African-American journalism graduate
Oct. 12, 2007
By Eva Simeone| Photo by Rick Fatica
Ohio University will honor its first African-American journalism graduate, the late Alvin C. Adams, when it dedicates Adams Hall, the first residence hall built on campus in more than 30 years. The ceremony, at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19, is open to the public.
President Roderick J. McDavis will join Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith and Alvin Adams' two children, A. Clay Adams and Amelia Marie Adams, on the podium. Refreshments will be served prior to the dedication.
"When I first heard this building was going to be named after Alvin, I was in a state of shock," said Alvin's widow, Ada. "This is a wonderful honor for Alvin and every African-American student who has ever attended Ohio University."
Adams Hall, located at 63 S. Green Drive between Nelson Dining Hall and the tennis courts, houses more than 350 students in 180 rooms. It features a veranda, a portico, high ceilings, a sink in every room, disability access, space-saving furniture, elevators, flexible meeting and study space, two student lounges on each floor, state-of-the-art fire alarms and sprinklers, and a spacious parking garage.
Adams--who was born in nearby Morgan County and graduated from Coolville High School--is known for his accomplished journalism career and dedication to the local community.
After graduating from Ohio University in 1959, he went to work for the Chicago Defender. It was there that he wrote about the black civil rights movement, which led to him covering Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.
Two years later, Adams went to work for Jet magazine, a Chicago-based weekly African-American news magazine. While there, he covered Malcolm X's assassination and interviewed numerous African-American icons such as Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Elijah Muhammad, Muhammad Ali and Fannie Lou Hammer.
"Alvin Adam's career has been an inspirational one," said Ohio University Professor of Telecommunications Vibert Cambridge, who co-founded the university's annual Community and Campus Day celebration with Adams. "He faced and never succumbed to obstacles. He followed his dream and made what he touched better."
After retiring as a full-time reporter, Adams worked in public relations until he moved back to the Athens area in 1998. The following year, he co-founded the Multicultural Genealogical Center in Chesterhill, Ohio, with his wife; mayor of Chesterhill and Ohio University Professor of Music Richard Wetzel; late Chesterhill Postmaster Stephen Smith; and community member Gracie Hill. The center's goal is to document the history of multicultural people in the Ohio River Valley dating back to the time of slavery.
Adams also was the inspiration behind the African American Research and Service Institute at Ohio University in 2002, which is dedicated to the systematic study of the African-American presence in the Ohio River Valley. He worked on and organized many other community projects until his death in 2004.
"I'm so excited about the dedication ceremony--I can barely speak," Ada Adams said. "Alvin would not believe it himself, and he would be so proud and thankful to Ohio University for this honor. Our entire family is just in awe!"
Anyone wishing to send congratulatory remarks to the Adams family can e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was modified on Nov. 6, 2007, to remove a reference to the Chicago Defender as the nation's first African-American daily newspaper. Professor of Journalism Patrick Washburn, a noted expert on the black press, points out that the New Orleans Tribune, published from 1864 to 1869, was the nation's first black daily newspaper. When the Chicago Defender became a daily in 1956, it was the nation's largest black daily newspaper.