Billy Graham Center

Interviews with Judith Rachelle Whittingham Adams - Collection 372

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Judith Rachelle Whittingham Adams

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection

Brief Description.
One oral history interview with Adams about her childhood, her work with Genesis One Christian School, The Mendenhall Ministries, and the educational and racial conditions in Mississippi.
Vol: 1 Reel of Audio Tape

Collection 372
[March 23, 2000]
Adams, Judith Rachelle Whittingham
Interview; 1987

1 Reel of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Judith Rachelle Whittingham was born into a Christian family living in the South Bronx, the second of four children. Her family moved to Rockland County, NY, where she attended school and she and her family attended a Christian and Missionary Alliance church. An African-American, she first experienced racism in school, when a black classmate of hers never received recognition for her top scholarship because she did not "look acceptable." It was later, however, that she and her family felt the full force of racism when they bought a home in an all-white neighborhood. Some of the same Caucasian people she went to church with were involved in the violence against her family, e.g., painting swastikas and other ethnic slurs on their home, shooting at the children in the yard, etc. Judith's father was a major influence in her life, as he taught his children about the Christian life and stressed that the racism directed against them was sin.

Judith married Dennis Adams and together they sought some form of Christian service to underprivileged blacks. They had heard of the work of John Perkins in Mendenhall, MS, and had heard Dolphus Weary preach and talk about the Mississippi work in their church. In 1976 they moved to Mendenhall and became active in the work of the Mendenhall Ministries with a two-year commitment. Judith became involved with Genesis One Christian School, one of the projects supported by The Mendenhall Ministries, which was an outreach effort of the Mendenhall Bible Church. (See Collection 373, Interview with Dolphus Douglas Weary, and Collection 374, Interview with Artis Fletcher, for further information on the Mendenhall Ministries.)

Adams served as administrator of the school and saw it expand from a pre-school and kindergarten to classes through the sixth grade. She resigned from her position because she felt the students of the school, many of whom came from one-parent families, had no strong Christian male role-model in their lives and she hoped a new director could provide that kind of leadership. The school did hire a black male administrator and a black male teacher but in 1987 they lost both.

After Adams left the school, she became Administrative Assistant for The Mendenhall Ministries which in 1987 involved work with three different programs: a summer meal program that provided meals for seventy-five to one hundred twelve children, an enrichment program for children ages three to twelve, and a Christian youth leadership development program.

The Mendenhall Ministries was a successor of Voice of Calvary Ministries in Mendenhall, founded and originally led by John Perkins. The ministry operated on a holistic model of addressing community and personal needs, whether medical, social, legal, economic, educational, or spiritual in nature. Voice of Calvary shifted its emphasis from rural to urban when Perkins moved to Jackson, MS. In 1978, Voice of Calvary--Mendenhall separated from Voice of Calvary--Jackson and in 1981 took the name The Mendenhall Ministries.

Scope and Content

Judith Adams was interviewed by Paul A. Ericksen on June 25 and 26, 1987, at the offices of Mendenhall Ministries in Mendenhall, MS. The dates of the events covered by the interview were approximately 1960-1987. The boldfaced entries are intended to highlight the topics covered in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:30 Introduction to interview on Thursday, June 25, 1987, at 3:30 p.m.
01:00 Early life in South Bronx and then Rockland County, NY; family background
03:15 First experience of racism; family buying a house in all-white community and persecution and vandalism which followed; racism another form of sin; debt of white church for its attitude toward racism; northern and southern racism compared
15:30 Involvement in Genesis One Christian School, its founding by two Wheaton College students and its educational and evangelistic philosophy
19:00 Expectations of the school for students; emphasis on conduct as well as academics; financing; services of parents to the school; role of parents in education process; need of the school to expand adult education program
23:45 Process of recruiting staff; hiring of Sue Nelson, a Caucasian, and her positive impact on the school; aspects of the ideal teacher for the school
27:30 Successes and difficulties of students entering public school after Genesis One
30:15 Introduction to the continuation of the interview on Friday, June 16, 1987, at 1:00 p.m.
30:45 Coming to Mendenhall, MS; marrying Dennis Adams, desire to provide services to underprivileged blacks; influenced by John Perkins and Dolphus Weary; Mendenhall Bible Church's impact on the community through The Mendenhall Ministry; accountability of different divisions and projects within the church
35:45 Description of typical school day; comparison of public schools to Genesis One in terms of classroom space, class sizes, textbooks, education costs, teacher resources, playgrounds; high point in history of school: 1981 when students from Aurora, IL, helped remodel a building and enrollment mushroomed
45:00 End of side 1

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:15 Recapitulation from side 1
02:00 Low point in history of school: the loss of black male administrator and teacher in 1987; attitude of outside officials; pursuing accreditation; students score one to two grades ahead of other schools in state
08:45 Heavy responsibilities as director of the school; responsibilities as administrative assistant: summer food program for 75-112 children; enrichment program for 75 children ages three to twelve; Christian youth development program for junior high and high school students
14:00 Story of Stacy Latoya Lee as reminder of the purpose of the work at Genesis One School and The Mendenhall Ministries
20:15 End of Tape T1


The audio tape for this collection was received by the Billy Graham Center Archives from Judith Adams in June 1987.

Accession #87-81
October 15, 1993
Janyce H. Nasgowitz
B. Phillips


Accession #87-81
Type of Material: Audio Tape

The following items may be found in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel (copied from original cassette), 3-3/4 ips, approx. 65 minutes, recorded on one side. Interview of Judith Adams by Paul A. Ericksen. Discussion includes childhood, education, Mendenhall Ministries, the Genesis One Christian School, and racial conditions in Mississippi, particularly in Mendenhall; June 25 and 26, 1987.

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