Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Powell, Adam Clayton, Jr., 1908–72, American politician and clergyman, b. New Haven, Conn. In 1937 he became pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, and he soon became known as a militant black leader. He was elected to the city council of New York in 1941, and was elected for the first time to the U.S. Congress in 1945. Although a Democrat, he campaigned for President Eisenhower in 1956. As chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor after 1960, he acquired a reputation for flamboyance and disregard of convention. In Mar., 1967, he was excluded by the House of Representatives, which had accused him of misuse of House funds, contempt of New York court orders concerning a 1963 libel judgment against him, and conduct unbecoming a member. He was overwhelmingly reelected in a special election in 1967 and again in 1968. He was seated in the 1969 Congress but fined $25,000 and deprived of his seniority. In June, 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his exclusion from the House had been unconstitutional. Powell was defeated for reelection in 1970.

See his autobiography (1971); study by A. Jacobs (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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