A. Clayton Powell was born in Franklin County, Virginia to
Anthony and Sallie (Dunning) Powell former slaves. He studied at
Wayland Seminary (a predecessor of Virginia Union University) and
at the Yale Divinity School.
From 1893 until 1908, Powell was Pastor of the Emanuel Baptist
Church in New Haven, Connecticut. He then served as Pastor of the
Abyssinian Baptist Church. In 1920, the church acquired a huge lot
and built a huge church and community center at a cost of $334,000.
Powell lead the church until 1936, when his son, Adam Clayton
Powell, Jr. became Pastor.
Powell was an honorary member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first
intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African
Powell is interred at Flushing Cemetery, Flushing, Queens, New