Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
West 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (Seventh Avenue)
This figure of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who represented Harlem in Congress from 1945 to 1970, strides dramatically up an incline in the forlornly windswept plaza that fronts the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building in Harlem.
The statue of Powell is 12 feet high and made of bronze. It sits on a cylindrical pedestal made of stainless steel and black granite. All told, the monument is 21 feet tall. In his right hand, Powell has a copy of the Congressional Record; one could be forgiven for assuming that Powell was looking for a place to chuck that thing. Powell is depicted, like I said, moving uphill, no doubt a bit of symbolism that could serve for any black person so memorialized in New York — or for anyone who endeavors to get such a memorial built.
The piece was sculpted by Branly Cadet, a New York native. It’s named “Higher Ground,” apparently inspired by a quote from Powell, “Press forward at all times, climbing forward toward that higher ground of the harmonious society that shapes the laws of man to the laws of God.”
The memorial was dedicated on Feb. 17, 2005. Apart from the usual roster of politicians, Powell’s son and grandson were on hand, Adam Clayton Powell III and Adam Clayton Powell IV.
Powell was born Nov. 29, 1908. He was the first black man to be elected to Congress from New York. He served from 1945 to 1971, serving for a time as the chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor. He died April 4, 1972. You can read a little more about him here.