Alabama State Bar
User ID   Password  
Oscar W. Adams (1925-1997)
Oscar W. Adams (1925-1997)
Oscar Adams, Jr. was born on February 7, 1925 in Birmingham, Alabama. He attended public schools in Birmingham and graduated from Talladega College. His father was a newspaper publisher of The Birmingham Reporter from 1900 to 1933. His great grandfather, Frank Threatt, was a member of the Alabama Legislature from Marengo County during the Reconstruction Era.

Oscar graduated from Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. in 1947. He returned to Alabama to practice law. His career as a lawyer spanned more than thirty years. In 1966 he became the first African American member of the Birmingham Bar Association.

Oscar Adams was recognized as an expert in the area of civil rights and his firm became one of the leading firms in the nation for handling complex civil rights litigation. Lawyers who were associated with Oscar Adams over the years included: U. W. Clemon, United States District Judge; James K. Baker, Birmingham City Attorney; J. Richmond Pearson, State Senator and Circuit Judge; Demetrius C. Newton, Municipal Judge and State Legislator; and Caryl Privett, U.S. Attorney and Circuit Judge, among many others.

On October 10, 1980, Governor Fob James appointed Oscar Adams to the Alabama Supreme Court. He became the first African American to serve on any appellate court in the State of Alabama. In 1982 and 1988 he was elected to full terms on the Supreme Court and became the first African American to be elected to a state-wide constitutional office in the history of Alabama.

Justice Adams served the people of Alabama well on the Supreme Court. He had great legal abilities, was a person of deep resolve, and was committed to the law. After he left the Supreme Court, he continued his service as Co-Chair, along with former Governor Albert Brewer, of the Second Citizen’s Conference on Judicial Elections and Campaigns. He also remained active in many civic and professional organizations.

But what about Oscar Adams the person? Nominator Mark White stated that Justice Adams loved gardening, cooking, and music. But Justice Adams cautioned that roses, ribs, and jazz should not be attempted by amateurs. Also, Justice Adams was probably more proud of having been published in Southern Living than in the Southern Reporter.

Oscar Adams was a true trail blazer who did not give up on the Rule of Law nor did he doubt that the Law could correct injustices in society. For all of his accomplishments, he is honored as a member of the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame.

Home | Next »