Stokely Carmichael (seated) and Adam Clayton Powell

Audio:

Part 1
Part 1
Part 2
Part 2

Notes:

Audio: The sound files were apparently made from tapes recorded at extremely variable speeds; speech varies from extremely slow and low-pitched to (very infrequently) unintelligibly fast and high-pitched. Almost all the speech is intelligible, however, if at times unintentionally comical. The first file begins in media res.

Image: Original caption: Washington Conference on "Black Power". Washington: Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-N.Y.) and Stokely Carmichael (seated) are shown during their press conference today. Powell announced he will invite all Negro leaders to a Washington conference on "Black Power" Labor Day weekend. Carmichael, a chairman of SNCC, said he asked the Harlem Congressman to convene the conference. July 27, 1966.  Copyright: Bettmann/Corbis.

Audio courtesy of the University of Kentucky.

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Date: 
[1964]
Related Documents: 
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Bio

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (1908-1972) was an African American politician, pastor, and civil rights activist. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and received a master's degree in religious education from Columbia University. He rose to prominence as a civil rights activist in Harlem in the 1930s and succeeded his father as pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church there. In 1944 he was elected the first black congressman from New York. He was involved in the passage of numerous social legislation bills and in 1961 became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. Criticism of his personal behavior and his management of committee funds led to his loss of the chairmanship in 1967, and he had to sue to retain his seat in the House, which he then kept, though without his seniority, until being defeated in the 1970 Democratic primary by Charles Rangel.  Seventh Avenue north of Central Park in New York City has been renamed Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. 

Image: Original caption: Washington Conference on "Black Power". Washington: Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-N.Y.) and Stokely Carmichael (seated) are shown during their press conference today. Powell announced he will invite all Negro leaders to a Washington conference on "Black Power" Labor Day weekend. Carmichael, a chairman of SNCC, said he asked the Harlem Congressman to convene the conference. July 27, 1966.  Copyright: Bettmann/Corbis.

Abstract

Powell discusses the state of organization, strategies, and prospects of the civil rights movement, as well as its leadership. Throughout the interview Powell refers to his own work in the 1930s as well as his legislation and other activities in Congress. He expresses a strong belief in nonviolence. He believes in integration rather than separatism. He discusses the role of demonstrations, expounding on when they are good and when they are bad, and their potential dangers. Prompted by Warren, he discusses Gunnar Myrdal's theory of how Reconstruction could have been handled better, including compensation to slaveowners for the loss of their slaves. Powell discusses economic and employment issues facing African Americans and the intersection between race and class. He disapproves of white leadership in the civil rights movement, mentioning in particular that in the NAACP. He discusses the state of liberalism in the U.S. in general. He emphasizes the need to get “real black history” into textbooks. He discusses a tendency of African American leaders to move toward the white world and away from their own people.

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