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Congresswoman Alma Adams keeps busy representing the district she was elected to serve — a district that includes much of Charlotte. Most notably, she has led a successful push on Capitol Hill to get more federal funding for historically Black colleges and universities.

Our own Johnson C. Smith University has been a beneficiary of her determination. Adams also has been at the forefront of a national campaign to reduce the disproportionately high number of Black mothers who died while giving birth. As a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, she has been bold in advocating on behalf of Black and other historically disadvantaged constituents.

What inspires your work?

My experiences guide my work. Growing up in the church, I learned a deep sense of justice and faith. As a first-generation college student, I learned the power of education. As a professor and teacher, I saw all of the ways that our colleges succeed, many of the ways they are set up to fail, and what we need to do to have equity in higher education. Finally, as a mother and grandmother, I’m inspired to leave a better world to my grandchildren.

What makes Charlotte special?

At the beginning of my service in Congress, the Chetty study ranked our community last in social and economic opportunity, and it has been inspiring to see the community come together to address this issue. By 2020 Charlotte was already making investments in affordable housing, climate change, and pursuing justice through local policy for the first time; then, since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen the Charlotte community step up in important and exciting ways, including major investments in equity, HBCUs, and our Historic West Side. All of that is a testament to the talent we have in this city, and our ability to attract leaders.

Who is/was your greatest inspiration and why?

My mother. She sacrificed so much so our family could succeed. She cleaned people’s houses so I could serve in the People’s House. She saved money so I could be the first person in my family to go to college, and while she didn’t have a college education she understood the value of education, something she instilled in me. She was a pastor who inspired others to seek justice, and even up until her death in 2015 she inspired others.

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