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Remembering Elenora Adams, who traveled across the south after segregation ended

In 1964, she and her husband embarked on a 4,300-mile journey through 12 southern states.
Elenora and Samuel Adams in 1964. [Times archives]
Elenora and Samuel Adams in 1964. [Times archives] [ NORMAN ZEISLOPY | St. Petersburg Times ]
Published May 13, 2020
Updated Jun. 22, 2020

Fifty-six years ago, Samuel and Elenora Adams set out on a dangerous journey, driving unarmed into states where thousands of people of color had been harassed, arrested, beaten and lynched.

Samuel was a St. Petersburg Times race reporter, assigned to spend two weeks traveling the South with his wife. Only four months had gone by since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Their mission: See what 12 southern states were really like for people of color after racial segregation was outlawed.

Despite the fear the couple felt — and the dangers that awaited them — they went anyway. Adams documented the 4,300-mile journey in a seven-part series, “Highways to Hope." Newsweek magazine would later call their journey “the most dangerous assignment in U.S. journalism."

Elenora Adams died at 92 in Waycross, Ga., on April 30. Her death came about a year after Samuel, passed on April 17, 2019. Their son, Sam. Jr., had died April 13, 2020.

Related: Read what we wrote about Sam and Elenora's brave journey here: How a black Times reporter chronicled his 1964 trip across the South
Elenora Adams and her son, Sam Jr.
Elenora Adams and her son, Sam Jr. [ Courtesy of Mike Coleman ]

To learn more about her, read the entire 1964 seven-part series Samuel wrote about their journey:

Related: In his own words: Sam Adam's original series on his road trip through racism in 1964