Before the battle for Civil Rights was waged in the South, it was fought in the North. And foremost among those northern Black leaders who spearheaded the charge for equality was Adam Clayton Powell Jr. As a local leader in pre-World War Two Harlem, Powell fought successfully to end discrimination in hiring and in public facilities. As the first- ever African-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York, Powell placed himself at the forefront of the passage of Civil Rights and anti-poverty legislation. In a way, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was the archetype for the modern Black politician in America. As such, he took those first steps in the long walk that eventually led to Barack Obama crossing the threshold of the White House.
VIDEO: Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. delivering famous “In Your Hands” speech.