Dement, Ada Bell (1888–1945)

By: David Park and Ruthe Winegarten

Type: Biography

Published: June 17, 2013


Ada Bell Dement, black educator, civic leader, and civil rights activist, was born in Mineral Wells, Texas, in 1888. She began her career as a teacher in Mineral Wells where, sometime in the early twentieth century, she married Baptist minister Clifton Dement.

Ada Dement served as chair of the Peace and Function Committee for the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and as a member of the Board of Control. She also worked as senior Texas state supervisor for girls and on the general committee for the Texas Commission on Interracial Cooperation. In 1930 Dement was elected president of the Texas Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (TACWC), later called the Texas Association of Women’s Clubs. Under her leadership, the organization started a scholarship fund, promoted a training school for delinquent black girls, and helped develop a hospital for black tuberculosis patients. Furthermore, the TACWC doubled the size of its membership and even worked closely with the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs. In 1941 Dement became the first Texan elected to serve as president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC), a role she maintained until her death in 1945. While there, she was instrumental in transferring the Frederick Douglas home, located in Washington, D.C., into the care of the NACWC.

While living in Mineral Wells, Dement served her community as an active participant in the woman’s auxiliary to the National Baptist Convention and as secretary of its executive committee. She was also a member of the city’s United Service Organization Council and was vice president of the Texas chapter of NNC, a popular front labor and civil rights organization with Communist connections. In 1942 Dement received an honorary doctorate from Bishop College in Marshall. She died in Tarrant County, Texas, on November 28, 1945. There are currently three Ada Bell Dement clubs on the Texas Association of Women’s Clubs list, including the Ada Bell Dement Civic and Social Club in Mineral Wells, Fort Worth, and Ranger, Texas.

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David O’Donald Cullen and Kyle Grant Wilkison, The Texas Left: The Radical Roots of Lone Star Liberalism (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2010). Andrew Webster Johnson, A Sure Foundation and a Sketch of Negro Life in Texas (Houston, 1940). Charles Harris Wesley, The History of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (Washington: National Association of Colored Women’s Club, 1984). Ruth Winegarten, Black Texas Women: 150 Years of Trial and Triumph (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995).

Categories:

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • Women
  • Women's Clubs

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

David Park and Ruthe Winegarten, “Dement, Ada Bell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 25, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/dement-ada-bell.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 17, 2013

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