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Adam Clayton Powell (1989)

| Documentary
The Academy Award-nominated ADAM CLAYTON POWELL delves into the gripping life and career of the most influential and flamboyant civil rights leader in America in the '30s, '40s and '50s. ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Julian Bond ...
Narrator (voice)
John Brademas ...
Himself
Calvin O. Butts III ...
Himself (as Rev. Calvin O. Butts III)
...
Himself (archive footage)
Shirley Chisholm ...
Herself
John Henrik Clarke ...
Himself (as Dr. John Henrik Clarke)
John Aubrey Davis ...
Himself
Hattie Dodson ...
Herself
James Farmer ...
Himself
Lenworth Gunther ...
Herself
Charles Hamilton ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
J. Raymond Jones ...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Julius Lester ...
Himself
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Storyline

The Academy Award-nominated ADAM CLAYTON POWELL delves into the gripping life and career of the most influential and flamboyant civil rights leader in America in the '30s, '40s and '50s. From his emergence as the princely pastor of Harlem's enormous Abyssinian Baptist Church, to his improbable, riotous political climb and eventual ruin, this must-watch film captures a man who was truly larger than life. Narrated by civil rights activist Julian Bond and resplendent with rich archival footage and candid interviews with those who knew him best, this tell-all documentary mines the good, bad, and ugly acts of Powell's illustrious but controversial career - the multiple marriages, the uproarious taunting of the white establishment, his desegregation of Congress, and his shameful smearing of Martin Luther King, Jr. from self-imposed exile on the island of Bimini. An unforgettable story of being unforgivably black in white America, ADAM CLAYTON POWELL makes for "endlessly fascinating, ... Written by Anonymous

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A look at an early and controversial civil rights leader
30 March 2001 | by (NYC) – See all my reviews

This documentary employs mostly talking heads and old still pictures to relay its message about the life and work of Harlem preacher and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. As one of the first black Congressmen, Powell deserves a lot of credit for helping ignite the civil rights movement. He helped blacks get into the navy, obtain government jobs, and boycott racist businesses. However, after the rise of Martin Luther King, Powell faded, as a man who was only looking out for himself. He was no longer THE black leader so he retreated to the Bahamas to live in luxury. I admit that I was not alive during the Civil Rights Movement, but I find most of what Mr. Powell did to be only for Mr. Powell. I don't think he is or was ever a good symbol for black strive, and the movie fails because it tries to view his life through rose tinted glasses. It is not a balanced piece. The whole story is not accurately represented. In fact, out of all the people who gave insight about this man, only one was white, and everybody put a positive spin on anything he did. This was an interesting man in life, but a poor movie about it. 4/10


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