Few plays ever shine a spotlight on the Caribbean except to marvel at the pristine beaches, eternal sunshine and soulful music that endears carnival and revelry.
But this month, theater lovers will have an opportunity to learn about New York’s first Black congressman and in the process discover the Bahamas island he frequently exiled himself in order to elude the spotlight.
“Adam,” starring Timothy Simonson is a one-man presentation that unveils the triumphs and tribulations of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, the first of his race to represent Harlem in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In an encore appearance after last year’s sold out performances during Black History Month, Simonson reveals the charismatic personality, his pastoral preaching at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and the meaningful phrases of ‘burn, baby, burn’ and ‘keep the faith’ Cong. Powell added to the American lexicon.
As if channeling the pioneering personality, Simonson returns the beloved character Harlem residents voted first to represent them in the New York City Council.
In addition to championing his political achievements, Black pride and defiance against white segregationists the production enlightens patrons to his marriage to Trinidad & Tobago born Hazel Scott, a jazz and classical pianist and singer.
How he juggled obligations of the church by succeeding his father in 1938 to lead the congregation and representing the people of Harlem as one of only two Black Congressmen until 1955 must have been a daunting challenge.
Cong. Powell served in congress from 1945 to 1971.
However, when he retreated to the Caribbean island of Bimini in the Bahamas proved far more controversial to his opponents in politics. Harshly criticized for spending too much time there, Cong. Powell never faltered in claiming his affinity for the island.
The play slated for a performances on Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. at Harlem Hospital’s Cave Auditorium, 506 Malcolm X Blvd. at 135th St. in Harlem, sets Bimini, Bahamas as a central location to portray the iconic public figure.
It was there he chose to spend his last days and when he died at age 63 in 1972, his ashes were scattered all over the island from an airplane.
Not since his passing in 1971 has the island of Bimini afforded as much attention.
Cong. Powell literally placed Bimini in a conversation that involved the entire U.S. Congress and much of America.
Some might even say “Adam put Bimini on the map.”