port of harlem magazine
Book Review: Black Baltimore and Civil Rights Leader Victorine Q. Adams
April 11 – April 24, 2019

victorine adams

Ida Jones’ fourth biography, “Baltimore Civil Rights Leader Victorine Q. Adams,” tells the story of the first African-American woman to serve on the Baltimore City Council through the history of Black Baltimore. Instead of a simple chronology of her life, the Morgan State University archivist also digs into the institutions, events, social norms, and people who helped shape how Adams moved through the chess game of life. The reader ends up with a greater appreciation of Adam’s dedication and accomplishments to the advancement of our people.

“Her connections at St. Peter’s (Catholic Church), Coppin (State University), and Morgan (State University) and among her neighborhood and family provided momentum that carried her into her thirties,” Jones writes. However, Jones just does not just name drop Adams’ influencers, she uncovers how their actions helped shape the civil rights leader.

She often digs so deep into the life of others who were a part of Adams’ life that I was compelled to do research on some of them. One such person was Dorothea Towles, the first successful Black fashion model in Paris.  Among other deeds, Towles participated in the Adams’ The Charm Center, a women’s boutique in segregated Baltimore. The Center had a number of women empowerment programs and Towles participated in their fashion show fundraisers.  

Jones, who often graciously provides this magazine historical context for articles, as expected, also provided much historical commentary on Adams and her life. She told Port Of Harlem that as a historian and archivist she is fully prepared to tell “herstory,” her way.  “Every writer selects their topic and angle from the outset. I found her story engrossing and impactful,” said Jones.  And Jones reflects her passion for Adams in her writing.

Adams’ passions attracted many movers and shakers and she helped shape them. She was a member of the talented tenth that propelled the race forward. Baltimoreans, in particular, and those with a history with Charm City will find the book a must read.
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