Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

photo by James J. Kriegman

Date of Birth: November 29, 1908

Place of Birth: New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.

Date of Death: April 4, 1972

Place of Death: Miami, Florida

Ethnicity: African-American, some European

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was an American Baptist minister and politician. A Democrat, he was a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York, from January 3, 1945 to January 3, 1971.

Adam was the son of Mattie F. (Buster) and The Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. His father was a pastor who developed the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York into the largest Protestant congregation in the U.S.

Adam’s parents were both black. Both also had European ancestry. Adam was also described as having some degree of Native American ancestry. It is not clear if this Native American ancestry has been verified/documented.

He had three children, including journalist, media executive, and scholar Adam Clayton Powell III and politician Adam Clayton Powell IV.

Adam’s paternal grandmother was Sally Clayton Dunning (the daughter of Mildred or Malinda). Sally was a free woman of color. Mildred was the daughter of Hannah.

Adam’s paternal grandfather may have been Llewellyn Powell, a white planter, likely with Welsh ancestry.

Adam’s maternal grandparents were Samuel Buster and Eliza Wilson.

Sources: Genealogy of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. –

Genealogy of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (focusing on his father’s side) –

1 Response

  1. andrew says:

    His paternal grandfather was possibly Llewellyn Powell, a white planter (and likely with Welsh ancestry)

    Sally Dunning was a free woman of color. All Sally’s family members were free mulattoes

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