- NAME: Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, U.S. Representative, Pastor
- BIRTH DATE: November 29, 1908
- DEATH DATE: April 04, 1972
- EDUCATION: Colgate University, Columbia University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New Haven, D.C.
- PLACE OF DEATH: Miami, Florida
- Full Name: Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
- AKA: Adam Clayton Powell
- AKA: Adam Powell
Best Known For
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was a 20th century clergyman and U.S. representative who was a major force in establishing civil rights for African Americans.
Political Activism in Harlem (2:14)
Artist Branly Cadet created the statue of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. that stands on the corner of 125th street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Manhattan.
Opened in 1913, the Hotel Theresa was considered the "Waldorf Astoria of Harlem" welcoming famous African-Americans, such as Joe Louis and Lena Horne, who were turned away from "whites only" hotels.
Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, discusses famous figures who contributed to the history of political activism in Harlem.
Watch a short video about Martin Luther King, Jr. to learn how this advocate for peace and equality inherited his name from his father.
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He was indicted for tax evasion in 1958 (the subsequent trial ended in a hung jury), was accused of defraying traveling costs as a public expense, and developed a spotty attendance record in Congress. Additionally, he was sued by Esther James after making a 1960 slanderous televised statement about her in relation to municipal corruption. The turmoil seemed to have little effect on Powell's loyal Harlem constituency, however,
and he continued to win re-election to his House seat.
Powell's career would eventually take a turn for the worse in the mid-1960s, when the congressman was accused of being in contempt of court by New York State over the James charges. In light of the newly garnered negative publicity, Powell retreated to Bimini in the Bahamas. The House of Representatives voted Powell out of office in 1967, though the Supreme Court would rule two years later that Congress had no jurisdiction to remove him from his seat.
Powell was re-elected to Congress in 1968; he lost the Democratic primary in 1970, however, to Charles Rangel by a very slim margin.
On April 4, 1972, Powell died from cancer in Miami, Florida. His ashes were scattered over Bimini.
The Harlem community continues to remember the politician and religious leader for his advocacy of the neighborhood; among its many memorials of historic African-American figures, Harlem established an iconic state office building and boulevard in Powell's name. One of Powell's sons, Adam Clayton Powell IV, chose to follow in his father's footsteps and enter politics, becoming a member of the New York State Assembly; Powell IV unsuccessfully campaigned against Rangel (his father's earlier congressional opponent) in 1994 and 2010.
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