Today is the 35th Anniversary of the passing of the single greatest black political leader in the history of the United States of America.
This is not the only passing of significance on this day – but this is the one that the national media will universally ignore – and they will ignore it because Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was no dreamer. He was a doer, a legislative wizard and a seeker of “audacious Black power.” And that, friends, is not something the American mass media wants little black Jane thinking about when its time to get her nails done – and it’s certainly not a topic for little black Dick when he’s tightening his laces to play basketball. Of course, the media is hardly the sole culpable party here.
Dick and Jane’s parents have forgotten. Their pastor remembers but won’t say a word because he/she is too busy recalling those bullets and their beloved target on the 2nd floor of the Lorraine Motel in Nashville, Tennessee. The police chief remembers, but he/she is too busy trying to forget the Long Hot Summer of 1968. The mayor remembers but won’t say a word because his/her own works pale in comparison. Even the radicals and nationalists won’t say a word. They failed to deliver on the promise of Powell’s legacy…failed to convert his power, access and passion into replicable institutional frameworks. No, this day will pass quietly for those of us who choose to recall Harlem’s finest Congressman. There are those who have held fast to his words and work. And, it has not been easy. The path which this Powell took was not one of carrying dirty water to the world in order to justify a dishonorable war. No – that would be Colin Powell…and these two men should never be mistaken for one another by our youth – besides, the general’s birthday is tomorrow.
Dick and Jane will have to run – to a new spot: the library. Whether cyber or B&M (bricks and mortar), the library holds the key to unlocking the past. There is much more to remember about this day than the passing of the great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Another great son of the church who fought and won on the greatest political stage in the world passed this way on April 4th. Who am I to forget?