Fifty years ago, Victorine Q. Adams wasn't patient enough to wait until white Baltimore politicians would allow blacks to gain representation.
So the tiny woman who ran a charm school formed the Colored Women's Democratic Campaign Committee and blazed a trail that eventually led this year to blacks holding the top elected offices in Baltimore and the majority of the City Council seats for the first time.
Yesterday, black elected officials said "Thank You" to Adams during a ceremony in City Hall.
"It is because of the sacrifices you made that we are all here," said Council President Lawrence A. Bell III. "You were willing to give up something lesser for something greater."
In 1946, Adams founded the committee to mobilize support for Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin and other white politicians sympathetic to black causes.
"We wanted to get some black representation but the Democratic Party wasn't supporting black candidates then," Adams said.
The group taught blacks how to vote, registered them to vote and fielded black candidates.
In 1967, Adams became the first woman to be elected to the council. She retired after representing the 4th District for 16 years.
"She paved the way for all of us," said newly elected 5th District Councilwoman Helen L. Holton.
A Morgan State College graduate who taught school for 14 years, Adam's major achievements on the council were a health clinic in the Edmondson Village area and helping to persuade the Social Security Administration to open its new complex in the city rather than in Woodlawn in Baltimore County, providing hundreds of otherwise inaccessible jobs to city residents.
The campaign committee's landmark election was in 1954. That's when retired Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Harry A. Cole, then a young lawyer, won the Republican primary for state senator from the 4th District, beating the candidate of the Democratic Party machine run by political boss Jack Pollack.
Today, she is active in getting black Baltimoreans to the polls.
"It is important to know that we have come a long way but we still have a long way to go," Adams said.
Pub Date: 10/29/96