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Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.


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.

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