Friday, November 30, 2001

Clayton Powell honored by optometry group

Dr. C. Clayton Powell, an Atlanta eye care specialist and chairman of the Development Authority of Fulton County, was inducted recently into the National Optometry Hall of Fame.

The consortium of professional, education and research organizations recognized him for having founded the National Optometric Association, which promotes participation among minority students and doctors.

He and cofounder Dr. John Howlette, another honoree, are the hall's first African Americans. Powell wrote bylaws, recruited members, started a newsletter, opened a headquarters and organized conventions.

He received the honor at the EastWest Eye Conference recently in Cleveland, Ohio.

A 1949 graduate of Morehouse College, Powell earned medical and graduate optometry degrees from Illinois College. In 1953, he became the first African American to join the Georgia Optometric Association and American Optometric Association. He was the first optometrist to head the Atlanta Southside Comprehensive Health Center, and the first African American appointed to the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Powell also served as NAACP vice president, filing all the court cases to desegregate Atlanta public schools in collaboration with Thurgood Marshall and other lawyers.

As Fulton County Development Authority chairman, Powell has helped guide $3 billion of development into the county and created more than 350,000 jobs.

Created in 1973 by a Fulton County Board of Commissioners resolution and Georgia law, the authority issues taxable and tax-exempt revenue bonds to help businesses expand, renovate and relocate in the county.

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