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Dr. Thelma C. Davidson Adair Honored at 2012 Absalom Jones Benefit

Our 2012 honoree was Dr. Thelma C. Davidson Adair. A Harlem icon, known to some as the “Village Mother of Harlem,” Dr. Adair has served her community for over six decades as a writer, educator, church leader, and advocate of human rights, peace, and justice.

An expert in early childhood education, Dr. Adair and her late husband, Dr. Arthur Eugene Adair, were pioneers in organizing Harlem’s first Head Start programs. Today, The Arthur Eugene and Thelma Adair Community Life Center Head Start serves nearly 300 children and their families in five Head Start Centers throughout Harlem.

She is the founder and Senior Pastor of Mount Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church, and was the first African American woman to be elected Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (188th Assembly). As an advocate for human rights and social justice, Dr. Adair has worked closely with national and international leaders, including the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. In addition, she was a member of President Bill Clinton’s delegation to the historic inauguration of South African President Nelson Mandela.

Dr. Adair’s connection to The Cathedral School is almost as strong as her connection to her community. She is the Grandmother of Ross Adair ’04, and a Great Aunt of Kasara ‘92, Linara ‘96, Amara ‘98, Tamara ‘03, Arthur ’02, and Christopher ‘04 Davidson.
Click below to see a brief documentary on Dr. Adair by Cathedral Parent Lenny Bourin.