A Tribute to Art Powell, Forceful and Forthright

Damali Binta – Apr 14, 2015

By Clem Daniels

I have lost a great friend in Art Powell, a man who will be remembered for his forthright character, buttressed by his determination to win football games and to win in life. Art refused to accept failure.

He was a close friend. We were roommates for four years in the early days of our career with the Oakland Raiders, of the American Football League. Some may have perceived us as gladiators, trained to entertain thousands of fans in magnificent stadiums, but we were more: we were men who stood up for equality and equity in professional football. Over the years we were cited as the first two players who openly protested unfair treatment of professional football players in certain cities in the United States. And, when we opposed incidents of discrimination, Al Davis always stood with us.

We were in harmony in our thinking about the strategies we used to express our voice against discrimination and segregation.

Art Powell always played to win. He did this in football, in golf, and in life. He was a great competitor. He joined the cadre of football players in the prime of his career with the Raiders under the coaching genius of Al Davis. We were a team in those days who hated losing games. Art had a significant role in running routes that were difficult to stop.

I will always treasure so many wonderful experiences in football, on the golf course and socially with Art.  The Associated Press photo which shows us in 1963 is kept visible above my desk when I work and reflect on the outstanding accomplishments of players like Art Powell.

Art pressed toward many honorable goals in life, for he was determined to win at the game of life just as he helped win football games on the playing field.  I have lost a great friend in Art.

I remember in 1966, the League scheduled the All Star Game in New Orleans, and when we got to New Orleans we ran into a lot of bigotry and segregation. Taxi cabs would not pick us up. Restaurants did not welcome us. We both had a meeting with Dutch Morial and others to discuss issues that concerned us and other players. This quote reminds me of one of the leaders who listened to our concerns: “Ernest Nathan Morial, known as Dutch Morial (October 9, 1929–December 24, 1989), was a U.S. political figure and a leading civil rights advocate. He was the first black mayor of New Orleans, serving from 1978 to 1986. He was the father of Marc Morial, a subsequent New Orleans mayor.”

I respected Art as a family man, with a loving wife, Betty, in Southern California and family that we will continue to encourage and to express our condolences. We think they are a wonderful family.

Art Powell’s character and career impacted us all. He will be remembered and honored by us as we continue to reflect on what we learned from him, a man who was and is a winner who has planted his feet on higher ground.

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