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Colin Powell: General

Colin Powell: General

Colin Powell was a distinguished American general and statesman who served as the 65th United States secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to hold that position and the highest-ranking military officer in the history of the United States. He played a pivotal role in several military and diplomatic operations, such as the invasion of Panama, the Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq War. He was also known for his leadership, integrity, and humanitarian efforts.

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Early Life and Military Career

Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937, in New York City, to Jamaican immigrants who worked in the garment industry. He grew up in the Harlem and South Bronx neighborhoods and attended the City College of New York (CCNY), where he participated in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program. He graduated in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in geology and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant.

He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, in 1962-63 and 1968-69, where he was wounded twice and awarded several medals, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He also earned a master's degree in business administration from George Washington University in 1971. He held various command and staff positions in the Army, rising through the ranks to become a four-star general in 1989. He was also appointed as a White House fellow in 1972 and served as an assistant to Frank Carlucci, then deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

In 1987, Powell joined the staff of the National Security Council as deputy to Carlucci, then assistant to President Ronald Reagan for national security affairs. He succeeded Carlucci as national security advisor in late 1987 and served until 1989. He was then nominated by President George H.W. Bush as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. He was confirmed by the Senate unanimously and became the first African American to hold that post.

As chairman, he oversaw 28 crises, including the invasion of Panama in 1989 and Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990-91. He formulated the Powell Doctrine, which limits American military action unless it satisfies criteria regarding national security interests, overwhelming force, and public support. He also advocated for a multilateral approach to international affairs and forged strong alliances with other countries. He retired from the military in 1993, after serving for 35 years.

Secretary of State

After his retirement, Powell was widely regarded as a potential presidential candidate, but he decided not to run for office. Instead, he devoted himself to public speaking, writing, and philanthropy. He founded the America's Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports children and youth. He also served on several boards and commissions, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Eisenhower Fellowships, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

In 2000, he endorsed George W. Bush for president and was appointed by him as secretary of state in 2001. He was again confirmed by the Senate unanimously and became the first African American to serve as the nation's top diplomat. He faced many challenges during his tenure, such as the September 11 attacks, the war on terror, the Afghanistan War, and the Iraq War. He supported Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, but later expressed regret for presenting faulty intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations Security Council.

He also pursued diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts and promote cooperation in various regions, such as the Middle East, North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Haiti, and Liberia. He advocated for human rights, democracy, free trade, and global health. He resigned as secretary of state in 2005 and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice.

Later Life and Legacy

After leaving office, Powell continued to be active in public life. He wrote two best-selling memoirs: My American Journey (1995) and It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership (2012). He also gave lectures and interviews on various topics, such as politics, foreign policy, education, and leadership. He endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008 and 2012, and Joe Biden in 2020, breaking with his Republican Party. He also criticized Donald Trump for his actions and policies, and supported his impeachment and removal from office.

He died on October 18, 2021, at the age of 84, from complications of COVID-19. He had been fully vaccinated, but had underlying health conditions, such as multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. He was survived by his wife of 59 years, Alma Johnson Powell, and their three children and nine grandchildren. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

Colin Powell was a trailblazer and a role model for many people, especially African Americans and immigrants. He was a decorated soldier, a respected statesman, and a dedicated public servant. He was also a man of principle, courage, and compassion. He left behind a legacy of service, leadership, and excellence that will inspire generations to come.


  • [Colin Powell - Wikipedia]

  • [Colin Powell Biography & Facts Britannica]


  • [Colin Powell - Biography - IMDb]

  • [Colin Powell - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]


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