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Fri, 06.13.1890

Osceola Macarthy Adams, Actress, and Teacher born

Osceola Mccarthy Adams

*Osceola Macarthy Adams was born on this date in 1890.  She was a Black actress, drama teacher, director, and clothing designer.  

Born to a life insurance executive in Albany, Georgia, Osceola Macarthy was mixed with white-European, Native American, and Black African heritage.  She attended schools in Albany, Georgia, including Albany Normal School, a predecessor to Albany State University, and then attended Fisk University's Preparatory School. Later, she attended Howard University, where she studied ancient Greek and philosophy. Macarthy was part of Howard University's Class of 1913. 

She was also a leader in Howard's Dramatic Club. Macarthy was a part of organizing Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Twenty-two women founded the alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta on January 13, 1913, at Howard University. After graduation, she and fellow founder Marguerite Young Alexander helped form a chapter in Chicago, Illinois. She also served as national treasurer. Delta Sigma Theta named an award in her honor for members who contributed to the arts and drama.

After graduating from Howard, Osceola married Numa Pompilius Garfield Adams, a chemistry professor, member of Alpha Phi Alpha, and first Black Dean of Howard Medical School. She moved to Chicago in 1921. She also taught at Bennett College.  She later moved to New York City, where she was a director of the Putnam Country Theater in New York City. She was one of the first Black actresses on Broadway, where she faced discrimination in a segregated acting environment during the early 20th century.

Mccarthy Adams worked under the last name of Archer and appeared in several plays. She appeared in The Emperor Jones with Paul Robeson and later acted in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. With directing, she helped to start the careers of Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. She also appeared in television commercials after retiring. She died on November 20, 1983, in New York City.  

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