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Two Black Men Named Powell Who Crossed Party Lines On Presidential Endorsements

Former General and Secretary of State Colin Powell (above), a Republican, has endorsed Barack Obama for President.

General Powell is not the first well-known black man named Powell to cross party lines with a Presidential endorsement.

In 1956 Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a Democrat, endorsed President Dwight Eisenhower over Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson. (The first link in the sentence is to a good essay on the A.C. Powell endorsement. It provides a sense of Mr. Powell and some context for his endorsement of Eisenhower.)

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

A strong book about Adam Clayton Powell (below) is Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: The Political Biography of an American Dilemma by Charles V. Hamilton.

Governor Stevenson, despite a reputation as a so-called liberal, had a poor record on Civil Rights. Mr. Stevenson had the support of many in the Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party, and often seemed more concerned with that support instead of making progress on issues of racial justice.

A good book about the silence on questions of Civil Rights by many leading political and literary figures of the mid-20th century, is Divided Minds by Indiana University professor Carol Polsgrove.

Adam Clayton Powell is a figure worth study. He was a strong advocate for Civil Rights and a greatly flawed figure at the same time. He had both legislative success and an inability to keep himself out of trouble. Few people could be both so right and so wrong at one time.

Mr. Powell served in Congress 1945-1971. Seemingly past his day, he was defeated in the 1970 Democratic primary by Charles Rangel. Mr. Rangel still serves in Congress and has had some problems of his own in recent months.

October 19, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments