Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: A Study of Militant Black Leadership in Electoral Politics
Kelly D. McCloud
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 2003 M3823
vii, 165 leaves; 29 cm.
The main purpose of this thesis is to examine the political leadership of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. to determine the effectiveness of a militant style of Black political leadership in national politics, and Powell's success with combining protest with electoral politics. It is my contention that the militant leadership of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was effective because he successfully functioned as a social agitator within the political establishment.
After establishing himself as a protest leader in Harlem during the Great Depression, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was elected to the New York City Council in 1941 and to Congress in 1945. He was the first African American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Northeast, and he became one of the most successful legislators in the history of the U.S. Congress. Over the course of his twenty-five year public career, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. played several roles: that of civil rights leader, militant voice and representatives fro Blacks, and persistent oppositional force as a legislator.
This thesis analyzes the leadership of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. through an examination of the early influences in his life, his political and religious philosophy, his political behavior as a minister and politician, and his practice of race and protest politics throughout his career. The analysis will demonstrate that for four decades (1931-1971), Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was a militant and fearless Black leader who fought vigorously against racial, political, and economic inequality in America.