In a eulogizing introduction Haskins predicts that ""even now as I write there must be thousands of blacks across the land...

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ADAM CLAYTON POWELL: Portrait of a Marching Black

In a eulogizing introduction Haskins predicts that ""even now as I write there must be thousands of blacks across the land who are giving a passing thought to or talking about Adam"" and maintains that ""three.quarters of all black professionals in the '60's"" owed their jobs to him. This may be true, and Haskins does perform a valuable service in reminding his readers of Powell's important role in the passage of major social legislation and in the desegregation of much of the District of Columbia, not excluding the Congress itself. However, while Powell's flamboyant, controversial personal behavior is admitted, Haskins' partiality to his subject does leave some disquieting questions unanswered. He draws heavily on the reminiscences of Powell's son, Skipper, and of such long-time friends and associates as Lewis and Lillian Upshur, but he seldom does more than hint at the charges leveled against Powell by his enemies. Certainly there was a large measure of hypocrisy in the ouster of Powell from Congress, but the charge that Powell was no worse than other Representatives is not quite the automatic exoneration Haskins seems to think. And many incidents -- including Powell's support of Eisenhower over Stevenson, his investigation into the Panamanian labor problems (which involved visits to Panama with his young son traveling as ""secretary""), and his famous Black Power press conference -- are surely open to less favorable interpretations than Haskins ever suggests. Despite these weaknesses, this biography is a needed corrective to the virtual exclusion of Powell from so many black history juveniles, but the author writes as an old admirer and thus fails to achieve the kind of new perspective that might change the minds of the skeptical.

Pub Date: May 4, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974