If you talk to people who were around during the days of ACP (and having often visited relatives in Harlem as a child, I did), they will tell you that Powell was either a pimp or a prophet. This DVD does an excellent job at examining both sides.
It uses interviews and generous newsreel footage to tell the tale of Powell, who used his good looks and articulation to his advantage to fight for the dispossesed and for his own place in the world. He dazzled the Black poor with stirring speeches that articulated his anger and used his influence as one of the first Black post-reconstruction Congressmen to advance education and civil rights legislation. However, this good side was overshadowed by his love of wine, women, and song (one clip actually shows a drunk Powell ranting at critics) as well as his tendency to skip congressional sessions whenever he felt like it and naked ruthlessness (at one point, the film shows his envy over the younger MLK leading him to start unfounded gay rumors about King and Bayard Rustin). This led his obvious enemies to expoit his weaknesses and partially self-destruct.
Before you note the similarities between this and another arrogant modern civil rights leader, it's an interesting sidenote to consider that in Powell's book "Adam by Adam," he denigrates King but speaks well of Jesse Jackson. Powell was also a mentor to the far cruder Al Sharpton (the one occasion that I met Sharpton, he shared some anecdotes about Powell).
Powell himself is fascinating to watch and hear. I'm glad they used a lot of actual film of him because it helpes viewers to understand why so many people admired him at his best, but the interviews (James Farmer's tale about Powell's donation to a civil rights group bouncing at the bank is priceless) are very enjoyable and Shirley Chisolm's final comments that end the film are quite moving, and put everything in perspective.
The generation of Powell's admirers are advancing in age, and while MLK's role in history is safe, Powell is largely forgotten by current generations aside from the street named after him in Harlem. Love him or loathe him, this film needs to be seen and he should be remembered.