Biographical Database of Black Women Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Christia V. Daniels Adair, 1893-1989

By Quin’Nita Cobbins
Graduate student, University of Washington, Seattle

Christia V. Adair was an early black suffragist, civil rights activist, and politician in Texas. Born on October 22, 1893 in Victoria, Texas to Ada and Handy Daniels, Adair attended elementary schools in Edna, Texas and later Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson). She attended Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University), receiving a teacher’s diploma in 1915. Returning to Edna, she taught in the elementary schools until she married Elbert H. Adair, a railroad brakeman, in 1914. The couple moved to Kingsville, Texas and lived there for eight years before relocating to Houston.

Adair took serious interest in women’s suffrage and politics while living in Kingsville. In 1918, she became an active participant in the suffrage movement when she learned of the current debate concerning a bill that would allow women the right to vote in the primary elections in Texas. Adair, along with other local black women, worked with white women suffragists in Kingsville to demand the right to vote in the Democratic primary elections. They educated themselves, disseminated information, and raised public awareness in their communities to support the passage of the bill and women’s full political equality. In that same year, the bill passed.

It was not until Adair and her friends attempted to vote in the upcoming primary that they realized that the victory for women’s suffrage had its limitations. Although they fought alongside white women, they, along with hundreds of other black women, were vehemently turned away from the polls across the state due to their race. Not long after in 1920, Adair switched her political support from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party after she took a group of black schoolchildren to see Republican Presidential candidate Warren G. Harding and he refused to shake their hands. Instead, he reached over them and shook the hands of the white children. These hurtful and racialized incidents turned her attention on the fight to end racial discrimination in Texas.

In 1925, Adair and her husband moved to Houston where she became involved with the local branch of the NAACP, serving as executive secretary from 1943 to 1955. The branch filed a number of legal suits such as Smith v. Allwright, which helped end the use of race as a signifier to ban African Americans from voting in the Texas Democratic primaries. Her civil rights activism with the NAACP allowed her to successfully fight to desegregate many of the city’s public facilities such as the Houston Public Library, city buses, Veterans’ Hospital, and the airport. In 1952, Adair helped found the Harris County Democrats, an interracial political group opposed to segregation. She became the precinct judge for the third ward and was one of the first two blacks elected to the state Democratic Executive Committee in 1966. The state Democratic Party initially refused to seat them but later relented. Adair rejected the offer.

Despite many hardships, Adair continued to fight for African Americans’ political rights and expanded women’s public role in Texas. While involved in a number of religious and social arenas such as the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Texas Club, Adair remained politically active well into her eighties, serving as a county clerk of absentee voting. In 1974, the local chapter of the National Organization for Women honored her for suffrage work. In 1977, Harris County dedicated a park in her name and, in 1984, she was named to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

Christia V. Adair died on December 31, 1989 in Houston, Texas. She was 96.


Nancy Baker Jones, “ADAIR, CHRISTIA V. DANIELS,” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 05, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association; Black Women Oral History Project. Interviews, 1976-1981. Christia Adair. OH-31. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass; Linda L. Black, “Female Community Leaders in Houston, Texas: A Study of the Education of Ima Hogg and Christia Daniels Adair (Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University, 2008); Bob Tutt, “Before Blacks Could Vote…-Houston NAACP was Major Force Challenging System,” Houston Chronicle, 8 July 1991, p.13.


Related Writings in Database

View works by

View works about




back to top