Adam C. Powell

1909- 1972

Politician/Civil Rights Activist



The son of a clergyman, Adam Clayton Powell became an outspoken politician and civil rights activist. Although he was admired as a dynamic orator on issues of civil rights, he was criticized for using demogogical techniques. In 1945, he was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat representing the Harlem District of New York, and served as a chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

In 1960, Powell was sued by a woman whom he accused of being a "bag woman" for police graft. After the scandal surrounding the lawsuit, he maintained a home in the Bahamas. In 1967, he was unseated by a House committee based on charges of misusing public funds. Nevertheless, Powell was reelected in a special election and returned to Congress in 1969, although he was fined $25,000 and deprived of his seniority.

In the same year, the Supreme Court overturned his expulsion from the House, although he was defeated in 1970 when he ran for reelection.


Adam By Adam: The Autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.