LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Every Sunday, you could find Mary Ann Adams sitting in the third pew closest to the aisle at New Zion United Methodist Church.
"She was just really all about church, all about education, she was all about family," her grandson Tyler JR Morton said.
She was also a trailblazer. In 1950, she became the University of Kentucky's first Black graduate at a time when UK had only just started integrating and welcoming Black students.
In a recording from 2006, she said it wasn't an easy path to forge.
"You were ignored," Adams said while recounting her experience at UK. "In many instances, you were ignored. You were invisible almost."
To listen to the full interview, click here.
Interview with Mary A. Adams by Erica N. Johnson. June 29, 2006, University of Kentucky: The African American Experience Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Despite the challenges she faced, she graduated with her Master's degree in Education and became a teacher for 35 years. When she retired, she continued to serve as a leader and advocate in her community.
On Christmas Eve last year, she died. She was 94 years old. Her grandchildren, twins Taylor and Tyler, miss her dearly.
"She's at peace, and I'm glad she's at peace," Taylor said.
To carry on their grandmother's legacy, the twins started a nonprofit called Resilience Charity, Inc. It focuses on providing advocacy, resources, and leadership in Lexington's underprivileged communities.
Every two to three weeks they do service projects. On Monday, the Booker T. Washington graduates passed out Valentine's Day treat bags to current students.
"Just showing them that as long as they put their mind to things and go with their dreams, they can be like us too, start a nonprofit, be in college, anything, any of their dreams can come true," Taylor said.
Since launching the nonprofit in December, they have also hosted a Christmas party for 30 underprivileged families and fed 150 individuals who are homeless.
"We want to show the community that somebody's here," Tyler said. "There's somebody here for support, somebody here for help. We want to lead them in to the right direction."
Every two to three months, they also plan a big event. Coming up on February 27, they're hosting a "Black History Carnival" at the Green Acres Shelter located at 1560 Lasalle Road. It will run from 4 - 7 p.m.
At the event, attendees can expect fun and informative activities, free food, and more.
They also work out of the Dunbar Community Center weekly. They reserve a space there where they offer educational and career tools.
The City of Lexington is looking for other similar organizations to operate out of the Dunbar Community Center. Those who are interested can visit here.