Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (November 29, 1908 – April 4, 1972) was a Baptist pastor and an American politician, who represented Harlem, New York City, in the United States House of Representatives (1945–71). He was the first person from New York of African-American descent to be elected to Congress, and the fourth African American from the North to be elected in the Post-Reconstruction Era after Oscar Stanton De Priest. He became a powerful national politician of the Democratic Party, re-elected numerous times and serving as a national spokesman on civil rights and social issues. He also urged presidents to support emerging nations in Africa and Asia as they gained independence after colonialism.
In 1961, after sixteen years in the House, Powell became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, the most powerful position held by an African American in Congress. As Chairman, he supported the passage of important social legislation under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Following allegations of corruption, in 1967 Powell was excluded from his seat by Democratic Representatives-elect of the 90th Congress, but he was re-elected and regained the seat in a 1969 United States Supreme Court ruling in Powell v. McCormack.5