Son and Grandson of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Visit Bio-Drama on the Legendary Harlem Congressman

On Thursday, February 9, Adam Clayton Powell IV and his son, Adam Clayton Powell V, attended the first preview of "ADAM," a bio-drama by Peter Deanda which dramatizes the political life and legacy of the legendary Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. The compelling and historically accurate play captures the former congressman's rise and fall, largely in his own words. Timothy Simonson plays Powell. The production, directed by Ajene D. Washington, is being presented Off-Broadway by Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre in association with Castillo Theatre and is running at Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street, through March 9.

The son and grandson of the late Congressman were wholeheartedly impressed by the veracity of Timothy Simonson's portrayal of their forbearer and gratified and enthused by the truthfulness of the play. Adam IV remarked, "It's all my father's words--what I heard and what I read."

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1908-1972) succeeded his father as Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1938 and represented Harlem as its congressman from 1945 to 1971. During the Great Depression, he was a charismatic neighborhood organizer and civil rights leader, bringing political pressure on major businesses to accept Black employees. Through boycotts, demonstrations and other civic actions, he achieved professional-level jobs for Black workers in the 1939 World's Fair, the MTA, utilities, Harlem Hospital and drugstore chains operating in the district. He was elected to congress in 1944, running on a platform of civil rights, fair employment practices and a ban on poll taxes and lynching. Brazenly outspoken on these and other issues, he was often their sole voice. This made him crucial to the evolution of politics of his time, because if he had not spoken out, many issues would not have been raised. For example, in the 1940s he challenged Mississippi congressman Rankin on the House floor for using the word "nigger." Powell is recognized today as the founder of Black Identity Politics.

Adam Clayton Powell IV is the son of the former Congressman and his third wife, Yvette Diago. He was elected to the New York City Council in 1991 in a special election and served for two terms. He also served as New York state Assemblyman, representing East Harlem, for three terms. He is presently a government affairs consultant. His son, Adam V, is is an actor residing in Manhattan.

His older brother, Adam Clayton Powell III, is the son of the Congressman and his second wife, singer Hazel Scott. Adam III presently lives in the Washington, DC area. He has had a long and varied career as a communications producer and university administrator.

"ADAM" previews this week and opens February 16.

IF YOU GO:
February 9 to March 12, 2017
Castillo Theater, 543 West 42nd Street
Presented by New Federal Theatre, Woodie King, Jr. Producing Director, in association with Castillo Theatre.
Thur, Fri and Sat at 7:30 PM, Sat and Sun at 2:00 PM.
$40 general admission, $30 students and seniors. Groups (10 or more) $25
Box office: www castillo.org, 212-941-1234
Producing company website: www.newfederaltheatre.com
Running time: 1:15


Photo by Jonathan Slaff

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