Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don Howard Salutes Black History Month - Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.


Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., (November 29, 1908 - April 4, 1972) was an American politician and pastor who represented Harlem, New York City, in the United States House of Representatives (1945–71). He was the first person of African-American descent elected to Congress from New York. In 1961, after sixteen years in the House, he became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. As Chairman, he supported the passage of important social legislation but was removed from his seat by Democratic Representatives-elect of the 90th Congress following allegations of corruption.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, Powell, a handsome and charismatic figure, became a prominent civil rights leader in Harlem, New York. He developed a formidable public following in the Harlem community through his crusades for jobs and housing. As chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Employment, he organized mass meetings, rent strikes, and public campaigns forcing companies and utilities and Harlem Hospital to hire black workers. During the 1939 New York World's Fair, Powell organized a picket line at the Fair's offices in the Empire State Building; as a result, the number of black employees was increased from about 200 to 732. In 1941, a bus boycott led to the hiring of 200 black workers by the Transit Authority, and Powell led a fight to have drugstores in Harlem hire black pharmacists.

In 1937, he succeeded his father as Pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church. In 1941, with the aid of New York City's use of the Single Transferable Vote, he was elected to the New York City Council as the city's first Black Council representative. He received 65,736 votes, the third best total among the six successful Council candidates.

"Mass action is the most powerful force on earth," Powell once said, adding, "As long as it is within the law, it's not wrong; if the law is wrong, change the law." He was elected to Congress in 1944.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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