Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. began his career as pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church. He became the first black person elected to congress from the state of New York, representing Harlem from 1945-1971. In 1961, Powell became chairman of the powerful education and labor committee where he guided the passage of a record number of important social policy legislation. However, his personal proclivities and allegations of corruption lead to his eventual ouster.
Civil rights activist Julian Bond narrates this Academy Award-nominated documentary profile of the charismatic early civil rights leader who taunted the white establishment, desegregated congress, and smeared the beloved Martin Luther King, Jr. before going into self-imposed exile on the island of Bimini.
Powell’s improbable climb to power was both illustrious and controversial and precipitated an equally spectacular fall. In this documentary, filmmaker Richard Kilberg spares no details in his efforts to investigate the true nature of power, politics, and personality as related to the man who remains a pivotal figure, in history despite his personal flaws.
Alpha Phi Alpha
Early Civil Rights Movement
Politics (Strategy & Process)
Race and Racism
Richard Kilberg is President and Executive Producer of the Fred Friendly Seminars, Inc.
He is the Executive Producer for the Fred Friendly/PBS program,presently being broadcast, Minds on the Edge; Facing Mental Illness in addition to the series Ethics in America II, In the Balance: Terrorism, Our Genes/Our Choices, Liberty & Limits: The Federalist Idea 200 Years Later and Profits and Promises, as well as the specials, Disconnected: Politics, the Press and the Public, Epidemic!, Beyond Black and White: Affirmative Action in America, Before I Die: Medical Care and Personal Choices, Your Money and Your Life: America’s Managed Care Revolution and Who Cares: Chronic Illness in America.
He has produced a variety of other distinguished television programming. His documentaries, Adam Clayton Powell, Huey Long, and The Brooklyn Bridge, have received two Academy Award Nominations, a DuPont Columbia Journalism Award, an Ohio State Journalism Award, a Christopher Medal, “Best of Festivals” awards, and other honors. He has also been a programming and production executive at PBS, HBO and in independent television production and has served as a management consultant for major media corporations.
Powell, Adam Clayton, Jr. Adam by Adam: The Autobiography of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: With a Foreword by Adam Clayton Powell, III. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group, 1994. With colorful details, Powell recounts his childhood in early 20th -- century Harlem, his education at an all-white college, his years preaching gospel and his rise in American politics. He takes readers inside the halls of Congress, where he served as Chairman of the powerful House Education and Labor Committee and was instrumental in the passage of Civil Rights legislation. And with his superb skill as a raconteur, he tells vivid stories of the influential people he'd met along the way, from celebrities to presidents to kings.
Hamilton, Charles V. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: The Political Biography of An American Dilemma . New York: Atheneum, 1991.
Probing Powell's rise and fall, Hamilton moves from the 1930s, when Powell became a New York City councilman, to his service starting in 1945 as a U.S. Representative, and then to his chairing of the House Education and Labor Committee, his expulsion from the House in 1967, and his defeat at the polls in 1970. Hamilton's able analysis of the unapologetic, openly arrogant champion of civil rights reflects the race issues of the day within a prism of political theory focused on the conflict of basic American values like majority rule and minority rights.
Haskins, James. Adam Clayton Powell: Portrait of a Marching Black. New York: Dial Press, 1974.
A biography that captures the essence of a remarkable black leader, the symbol of hope for blacks for two decades.
Haygood, Wil. King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr . New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1993.
Boston Globe reporter Haygood weaves together interviews and research to create a nuanced yet vivid narrative about the crusading Harlem congressman who served in the House for 24 years and whose controversial behavior and womanizing often overshadowed his crucial contribution to the War on Poverty. He astutely traces how the light-skinned Powell (1908-1972), who tried to pass as white when a Colgate student, later embraced his blackness and demanded acceptance in the white world. Mixing New York and national political history with Powell's rise as a Baptist minister and politician, Haygood adds deft cameos of characters like Hattie Dodson, Powell's devoted secretary, and Hazel Scott, the jazz star whose wedding to the divorced congressman was "the stuff of grand romance and intrigue." Expelled from Congress in 1966 for alleged misappropriations and an unpaid libel judgment, Powell, Haygood writes poignantly, was shunned by black leaders and, even after reinstatement by the Supreme Court, disparaged by many he had helped.