The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Bio of Lee Riley Powell, Executive Director of the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus

Lee Riley Powell was a Presidential appointee in President Bill Clinton’s administration, where he served as senior adviser to the Mississippi Delta Regional Initiative on US Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater’s staff (1999-2000), and Regional Economic Development Adviser at USDA Rural Development during the earlier Clinton administration (1995-99). He was one of the four key managers for President Clinton’s conference on the Mississippi Delta in May, 2000, which featured speeches by President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, many Members of Congress and governors from both political parties, and hundreds of grassroots leaders from the Delta region. He was executive editor of the Clinton administration report on the Delta’s economic issues, Delta Vision, Delta Voices: The Mississippi Delta Beyond 2000 which was published at the Delta conference in Washington, DC in 2000.

Powell served as a member of the United States delegation to the North American Free Trade Agremment (NAFTA) committee on private commercial dispute resolution, where he advocated stronger safeguards for the environment, labor, and more aid for those who are hurt by economic dislocations caused by international trade. As president of the Washington, DC Irish American Unity Conference, he was one of the key organizers of the Irish Peace Process Forum at Georgetown University law school in Washington in late 2005 and has been active in supporting efforts to promote peace and justice in a united Ireland. He has served as a consultant on a variety of activities focused on economic empowerment of the poor, and racial, religious and ethnic reconciliation.

Powell was formerly communications director and legislative assistant to the First Congressional District Rep. Bill Alexander in the Arkansas Delta in the 1980s; served on a federal judicial clerkship on US District Judge William R. Wilson’s staff (one of President Clinton’s first appointees to the federal courts), Eastern District of Arkansas; American Bar Association; Visiting professor of international law at Universidad Morelos de Cuernavaca in Mexico; graduate degrees from the University of Virginia Law School and Graduate School; Phi Beta Kappa, Rhodes, with additional academic credit from Harvard and the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.

Powell is the author of J. William Fulbright and His Time, a comprehensive biography of Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, foreword by President Bill Clinton (published in 1996). Senator Fulbright founded the Fulbright Scholar Program and was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 to 1974. He was active in supporting the creation of NATO, the UN and the Marshall Plan in the 1940s. He was a courageous opponent of the demagogical witch-hunts of Sen. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. He led the opposition to the Vietnam War and was an advocate of détente with the Soviet Union and China. The book is a scholarly work that analyzes both the achievements and the flaws in Fulbright’s record, including the Senator’s weak civil rights record.

The biography received excellent reviews from Professor Norman Graebner of the University of Virginia, the late Professor Robin Winks of Yale, Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst of National Public Radio, Sen. Edward Kennedy, the late United States District Judge Henry Woods, and other analysts of recent American history. President Clinton delivered the eulogy at Senator Fulbright’s funeral in 1995.

Powell is co-author along with Kenneth W. Thompson, formerly executive director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior in the Kennedy-Johnson administrations, and other authors of Statesmen Who Were Never President , published by University Press of America, 1997. This is a book on a series of noted American statesmen who never became President but nonetheless played an important role in US history.

Powell has lived in four of the Delta states in his career (Arkansas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Selma, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee). He began his career as a journalist, working for several years as a political reporter for newspapers in the South. He won the Associated Press award for political column writing in Arkansas in 1984.

Powell is married to Caroline Thorpe Powell, an organizational development expert with the federal government in Washington, DC.