The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) presented its Senator William Proxmire Lifetime Achievement Award to civil rights leader Stella Adams at the organization’s Just Economy Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 11, 2019.
Adams, a longtime member of NCRC’s board of directors and the organization’s Chief of Equity and Inclusion from 2016 to 2018, was honored for her leadership and advocacy for fair lending practices and enforcement of the Fair Housing Act across the country.
“We don’t have enough voices like this in the country,” said John Taylor, President and Founder of NCRC, who presented the award to Adams at the Just Economy Conference national awards dinner. “She is a true soldier in the complete sense – somebody who is willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to get the truth and to confront power and to get at change – social and economic and civil change – that creates a better society.”
The award presentation included a surprise appearance by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina), who represents Adams’ home district in Durham, North Carolina.
“She has worked tirelessly to make sure that hard working citizens and communities of color have equal access to housing without having to sacrifice their financial independence in return,” Butterfield said. “For years, Stella has educated the private sector and has raised awareness about the needs of our communities as they relate to fair housing and the access to capital. Her efforts culminated in the North Carolina’s General Assembly’s passage of one of the strongest….anti-predatory lending bills in the country, as well as other housing reforms at the state and federal level.”
Adams once went on a 30-day hunger strike to bring national awareness to predatory lending practices, resulting in a $100 million commitment from Bank of America to North Carolina communities.
“Equity and equality are not evenly distributed,” Adams said. “Everyday we fight against injustice, inequality, racism, sexism, all the isms, and we lose sight of what we are fighting for. We are so busy fighting to preserve and protect past gains, and let’s be clear, all our gains are at risk, that we fail to plan for this future where we live out the American dream. That is what we are striving for. I need you to fight for your future. Fight for equity.”
The Senator William Proxmire Award for Lifetime Achievement was first established by NCRC in 2006 in honor of the senator who authored the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which required banks to provide loans to communities where they take deposits, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
Photo: From left to right: NCRC CEO Jesse Van Tol, NCRC Board Chair Bob Dickerson, Stella Adams, and NCRC President and Founder John Taylor award Adams the NCRC Senator William Proxmire Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Just Economy Conference on March 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Maria Bryk Creative for NCRC.