By Rose Mendes, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — Melanie Trump might be the first immigrant First Lady. But before the nation gets her into the White House, it’s apt to explore six degrees–or less–of separation with The Hartford Guardian‘s own first at the White House: Ann-Marie Adams.
In 1990, someone chuckled and said then Ann-Marie Rose Mesquita was on the road to the White House as the first black First Lady.
But Providence stepped in.
Since then, she has embodied the classic Harriet Alger story as a journalist and historian.
In 1992, she worked for the Black Fashion Museum and produced a variety of programs at the Minisink Town House in Harlem, New York and was an active member of the Harlem fashion community and worked with Lois Alexander Lane, founder of the museum and Adam’s mentor. She also helped produced the Harlem Week Fashion show. After a career as a model and an actress, she met and married her husband in Brooklyn. Now Ann Marie Rose Mesquita Adams, she started her career as a staff writer at Brooklyn College’s Excelsior newspaper in spring 1995. In 1996, she was editor-in-chief of the Kingsman, cutting her teeth as a journalist in New York and developing her…um… sixth sense as an investigative reporter.
“I have developed a journalist’s instinct, which has served me for about two decades,” Adams said while sitting in the Legislative Office Building’s cafeteria in Hartford. “That’s why my colleagues said I have good instincts akin to a sixth sense. I’m truly amazed at how I’ve survived in the journalism business this long because of that instinct.”
While in New York, she covered Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, his election campaign and other stories in Brooklyn and the Bronx. A sharp editor and writer on campus at Brooklyn College, Adams was later recruited for the Times Herald Record, the Norwich Bulletin and the Hartford Courant in 1999. While at the Courant, she started the new wave of feminist writing –something personal–for the Northeast Magazine. And as in her first year at the Courant, she won a national award for education reporting. Her story, Missing Minority Teachers, won first place award for a three-part series about minority teachers and recruitment in Connecticut. And her reporting on education, politics and consumer issues have garner several recognition.
In January 2004, the award-winning journalist founded The Hartford Guardian and the online magazine publication, which began in October 2008. Since then, she has covered in 2010 Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez’s corruption trial, which led to the court overturning Perez’s conviction in 2016. Additionally, her reporting about condo associations’ scams helped to shape new laws that protect condo owners. And her story about predatory lending schemes and the foreclosure crisis by financial institutions in 2007 led to new laws in Connecticut. Adams has also covered the 1999 Columbine shootings in Denver, Colorado, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. and the General Assembly at the United Nations. More recently, her coverage of Obamacare led to President Barack Obama’s administration discovering fraud under the new Affordable Care Act law.
This is quite an achievement in the Greater Hartford area, some of her admirers said. That she is the only remaining black, female reporter at a daily publication is akin to the 1960s, according to local residents. During the 1960s, black residents received news from the white press, said Dr. Cedric Rawlings, 89. Rawlings was chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the early 1960s.
“Back then, I don’t remember seeing any black reporters,” Rawlings said. ” We got reports from the white press. So I’m pleased and proud that she’s been around that long and is able to write about positive things in the area.”
Dr. David Williams, who is chairman of the Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities, Inc., which publishes The Hartford Guardian, concurred with Rawlings.
“I’m really proud of her. She has done a wonderful job shepherding this paper for so long,” Williams said. ” It’s hard to start and maintain a business here, so I understand why [celebrating 12 years of publication] is a tremendous achievement.”
Adams has also been a trailblazer. After she founded The Hartford Guardian in 2004, there have been similar publications such as hers, copying her brand and writing style. Other followers include CTNews Jukie and CT Mirror.
That can only be attributed to her ingenuity, Luis Giles said. He added: “And we’re proud of the fact that she’s a distinguished student from a Historically Black College and University: Howard University.”
In 2011, Adams graduated Howard University’s doctoral program with a distinction in United States History and taught U.S. History at Rutger’s University. And she was also chosen for the cover of Hartford Magazine as black woman of the year in 2012.
After that, she was on her way to becoming the first Jamaican-American White House Correspondent.
“I think it’s wonderful she’s been doing this for a long time,” said Ameriborn Publisher William Landers. “She’s an amazing woman.”
Adams’ path to the White House intersected with Melania’s presumed path to the White House as an immigrant. Both women were models in New York during the 1990s. And both met then Kansas Senator Bob Dole during the 1990s.
Ann-Marie Adams was as a model in New York City during the 1990s.
In 1996, when Melania emigrated to the U.S. from Slovenia, Adams was selected to interview Dole during his presidential campaign stop at Brooklyn College. In 1998, Melania met Donald Trump, who is a friend of Dole. And Dole was familiar with Adams, who emigrated to Hartford in 1987.
That’s how Melania Trumped Adams: She and her husband met Dole, who knew about Adams, the smart reporter on campus, her former college buddies said, who should have gone to the New York Times.
Dole, a Brooklyn College alum, have resurfaced in the 2016 election. Dole is also linked to Adams, the award-winning journalist and founder of The Guardian, now in her third year of covering the White House beat. Only Providence can explain that coincidence, Adams said.
Also a local historian, Adams said that if Melania goes into the White House as the first immigrant first lady, it would be because the Republicans show that they are the stronger team to tackle the question of immigration and xenophobia in our country.
Her knowledge of the issues and her connections with Melania, Adams said, will only help give insight into the White House beat as the first black president finishes his second-term in office as he has yet to finish his plan to tackle immigration reform and other lingering policy issues.
That’s not the only connection Adams has to the White House, however. Her friend, who is a Princeton alum, who lives in Boston, is a friend of a Washington, D.C. resident: Gary Officer. Officer is also a close ally of Michelle Obama.
Celebrating 21 Years of Civic Journalism with Ann Marie Rose Mesquita Adams. Adams’s career spans from 1996 covering Republican Presidential Candidate Bob Dole at Brooklyn College to 2016 covering Democratic President Barack Obama at the White House:
Video with Melanie and Bob Dole:
In 2015 while covering the White House, sources told Adams that she might have been the first immigrant First Lady at the White House–if she had behaved and wasn’t such a workaholic. What unfolded after the Afro-Latina got the news is dubbed the crime of the century: Adams has no wedding plans with any of the presidential candidates. That’s because she was and is perhaps still married to her twin career as a journalist and a historian. As a result, she has displaced an incredible depth and breath as a journopreneur, doing the work of about 10 people.
Ann-Marie Adams, White House in 2015 (top) and Melanie and Michelle (bottom):
None of these women, her colleagues said, work harder than Adams for what they have accomplished so far. Adams, who emigrated from Jamaica in 1987, is now the founder of the first nonprofit news publication in Connecticut. Moreover, Adams believe in keeping her word and holding politicians accountable if they don’t. Her integrity in the Greater Hartford community is why she was trusted to locals to tell their stories, so that leaders could effect change in Connecticut, also known as Corrupticut.
So it’s only apt that we celebrate our journalist in Connecticut, her colleagues and locals said:
“I think she’s made a big contribution to journalism. It’s a big accomplishment to (stay in the business that long). It’s not easy to do,” said a former Hartford Courant colleague: Frances Grandy Taylor. “It takes perserverance.”
As result, she’s “known as a superior writer who has effectively report on the human experience, especially the marginalized. We understand why she’s envied,” said Lansana Koroma, a community organizer. “It was only fitting that we lift her up and thank her for helping to tell our stories.”
Informally ordained as a saint in 2016, Adams has been seeking a prayer-filled and purpose driven life by continuing to give back to her community. She practices civic journalism at The guardian, a non profit news organization based in Hartford, Conn. A prophet who was baptized at 7 years old and gave her life to Christ. She was a first a member of the African-African Methodist Episcopal in Bloomfield. She has since visited several churches since 2001 noting the disconnect between the church and the world of news and politics, eschewing the false dichotomy of faith and politics.
“With The Hartford Guardian, I get to marry faith, politics, history and media,” said Adams who still looks like a 26-year-old ingenue. “I love writing about people who are passionate about God, country and family. This allows me to share the human experience and the larger story of humankind.”
Six Degrees of Separation
Picture of Adams and Bob Dole at Brooklyn College 1996 (top) and Gary Officer and Michelle Obama 2011 (bottom):
All photos courtesy of Ann-Marie Adams and Gary Officer.