29 November marks the birthday of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 1908. His parents were of mixed race with African and European ancestry. They had ancestors who were classified as mulatto in 19th-century censuses. Powell Sr. was a prominent Baptist minister. Powell, Jr. would follow his father into the ministry
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, Powell, became a prominent civil rights leader in Harlem, NY, using numerous methods of community organizing to bring political pressure on major businesses to open their doors to black employees at professional levels. In 1944, Powell ran for the United States Congress on a platform of civil rights for African Americans.
In 1961, after sixteen years in the House, Powell became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, the most powerful position held by an African American in Congress. In this position, he presided over federal social programs for minimum wage and Medicaid. He also expanded the minimum wage to include retail workers; and worked for equal pay for women; he supported education and training for the deaf, nursing education, and vocational training; he led legislation for standards for wages and work hours; as well as for aid for elementary and secondary education, and school libraries.
Below you will find a short video of the opening few minutes of a documentary regarding Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. that includes both clips of him speaking and reminiscences of those who remember him….