(Continued from page 1)
V brothers to elect a representative to
A the legislature, although a majority
of those brothers voted against
WL woman's enfranchisement."
■8r But for all the outcry in the
W South, black males could not take
f advantage of their voting rights.
Poll taxes, white primaries, private clubs
and terrorism effectively kept Southern
blacks from voting.
Adair was involved in community
activities in Kingsville, Texas, where she
and her husband lived. The white suffragists in Kingsville wanted her to get other
black women who worked as domestics
to ask their white employers to sign petitions supporting the 19th Amendment.
"Other Negro women and I helped
them get these petitions signed, and we
did win," Adair said. "Well, these same
Negro women went to the polls to vote,
and we come to find out that we couldn't
vote because we were Negroes. Then we
fought with that.
"Oh, I was hurt ... to think that I
had worked so hard to make it possible
for women to vote and I was a woman and
I couldn't vote. We had no rights, and we
couldn't demand anything."
Also active in the liberal Harris
County Democrats here, Adair still recalls
the day she became a Democrat.
"Up until around 1900, all Negroes
were Republicans because Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Around 1920, I
personally made a change," she said.
"Warren G. Harding was running for
president. My husband was a brakeman oi
the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Being a
senior brakeman, he would always bring
special trains to our section. One day he
called me long distance and told me that
along the road, the school children were
meeting the campaign train of Harding and
shaking hands with him. He said the train
would stop in Kingsville.
"I asked to take 10 or 12 children
with parents' consent to see the candidate," Adair said. "I knew exactly where-
the train would stop. I selected the spot
and placed my children. When my husband
opened the observation gate, my children
were standing in front of it where Harding
had to step out.
"When he stepped out, he reached
over my children and shook the white children's hands. I became upset and decided
at that moment I would become a
In 1925, Adair moved to Houston,
where she became active in trie city's newly formed chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP). She became its first
executive director and continued to agitate for blacks' right to vote.
"Some of the Negro men tried to
get me out of the job," Adair remembers.
"But I was always more afraid for the Negro men. I could get away with more.
"Many nights I didn't sleep, wondering what they (whites) might do to me. I
never had a gun in this house, but they
thought I did. I did a lot of big talking."
Blacks in Texas actually got the vote
when a long and controversial suit brought
by a black Houston dentist resulted in the
abolishment of the white primary and the
Texas political party structure.
Christia Adair was one of the first
black women in Texas to vote—the year
But her efforts did not stop then.
She continued to battle the petty Jim
Crow laws—the segregated restrooms and
lunch counters, the rules against blacks
trying on clothes in stores' dressing rooms.
The McCarthy era was particularly
hard. In 1956, the state attorney general
A BIG TEXAS
SYLVIA BENNETT/Public Service Director
GLORIA GARZA/Film Director
Billie Jean Vowell
Mary K. Issacs
Jo Anne Vallie Rush
accused the NAACP of barratry, soliciting
cases for lawyers, and tried to get its membership roster. Adair conveniently lost the
list, and Roy Wilkins, backed her up with
equally bad record keeping in the national
Even at 84, the struggle for equality
and justice is not over for Christia Adair.
"As long as there is something to be
done, I don't feel like I'm too old to do
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