|Intro||African-American suffragette and club woman|
|A.K.A.||Sarah C. Lewis, Sarah Lewis Adams, Sadie Lewis Adams|
|Was||Teacher Activist Suffrage activist Suffragist|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||24 February 1872, Staunton, USA|
|Death||30 July 1945, Chicago, USA (aged 73 years)|
Sadie L. Adams (February 24, 1872 – July 30, 1945) was an African-American teacher, suffragist, and clubwoman. She was one of the first women to serve on an election board in Chicago and one of the founders of the Douglas League of Women Voters. In 1916, she served as a delegate from Chicago's first black suffrage organization, the Alpha Suffrage Club, to the National Equal Rights League conference. She was elected president of the Chicago and Northern District Association of Colored Women's Clubs in 1921, serving into 1934.
Sarah C. Lewis was born on February 24, 1872, in Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia, to Fanny (née Mosby/Moseby) and William W. Lewis. She was one of the couple's three children and had a sister Cora (later Keyes) and brother Delaware. From her youth, she was involved in the John Wesley AME Church and both taught as a Sunday school teacher and served as president of the Sunday school board. After attending public school in Staunton, Lewis went on to earn a teaching certificate from Hartshorn Memorial College in Richmond.
Returning to her hometown, Lewis began teaching in the Staunton Public School system, where she worked until her marriage. On June 1, 1892, she married James P. Adams and subsequently the couple had three children: James Cornelius (born 1895), Sarah Neta Lucile "Lucille" (born 1901) and Amelia Frances (born 1904). The couple had moved to Baltimore, Maryland by 1901, when Adams became a congregant and had her son baptized at the Church of St. Katherine of Alexandria, a "colored mission" of the Mount Calvary Church.
In 1910, the family moved to Chicago and Adams joined the St. Thomas Episcopal Church. She served in the Woman's Home Missionary Society, as recording secretary and became an active clubwoman. Twice a week, she worked at Provident Hospital, weighing and recording statistics on babies and served as the treasurer of the Inter-Racial Cooperative Committee of Chicago, which raised funds to maintain the Amanda Smith Industrial School for Girls in Harvey, Illinois. She later served as a trustee on the school's board.
Adams joined the Alpha Suffrage Club, the nation's black women's suffrage association and within one year of its 1913 founding had become a club officer, serving as its corresponding secretary. Illinois women won the right to vote in local elections in 1914 and Adams was one of the first women to serve on the election board. In 1916, she attended National Equal Rights League Conference held in Washington, D.C, as a delegate for the Alpha Suffrage Club, for which she served as vice president, under Ida B. Wells' presidency. She was "the only delegate from the state of Illinois" and also attended two conferences of the Illinois Equal Suffrage League as the Alpha Club's delegate.
When her son, James volunteered for service during World War I, Adams began volunteering one day a week with the State Council of Defense to enroll women in war work. At the end of the war, she was honored with an armband for her service from the women's committee of the Council of Defense. At the conclusion of the war, she returned to her work on suffrage and attended the organizational conference in 1920 of the League of Women Voters (LWV), held in Chicago. In 1921, Adams was elected president of the Chicago and Northern District Association of Colored Women's Clubs, having previously served the organization as parliamentarian and vice president, and would serve through the 1933–34 term. She was one of the founders of the Douglas League of Women Voters and was selected as a delegate to the Pan-American Conference of Women held in April 1922 in Baltimore.
In 1923, Adams was invited by the Illinois League of Women Voters to represent the Illinois Federation of Colored Women's Clubs at a conference organized to discuss the Sheppard–Towner Act. The Act had been passed in 1920 to provide federal welfare legislation to protect children and maternity and a framework of state and federal cooperation in its implementation. The National LWV supported the act, but it was controversial because it required states to match the federal contributions to the program and organize implementation. In 1924, the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) held their 14th Convention in Chicago and Adams not only chaired the committee organizing the arrangements, but presented the keys to the city to Hallie Q. Brown, NACW president.
Death and legacy
Adams died on July 30, 1945, at Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago. She is remembered as one of the few black women to have interest in and be actively involved in the suffrage movement and as a dedicated worker for women and children's benevolent societies in Chicago.