Frankye Adams-Johnson was born in Pocahontas, Mississippi to a sharecropper family. When she was seventeen years old, she became involved in the NAACP Youth Council after learning of civil rights protests occurring in nearby Jackson, Mississippi, which included lunch counter sit-ins. She participated in numerous civil rights events and marches, including a walk-out of her high school to support the sit-ins that she helped organize. In the summer of 1964, she was selected to attend the pre-freshman program at Tougaloo College where she became involved in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1967, she left Mississippi for New York City, where she met and joined the Black Panthers. She became the founder of the Black Panthers chapter of White Plains, New York, while also obtaining two degrees and teaching as a college professor. She later moved back to Mississippi to continue teaching, speaking and writing, and eventually became the Chair for the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.