General Colin Luther Powell, one of the most prominent Black US military and political figures has passed away. He was 84 years old.
According to the statement from his family, he died from COVID-19 complications. General Colin Powell is well known for his firsts as a Black African American: first US Black National Security Adviser, fist Black Secretary of State, and the youngest and Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Colin Powell, a long-time republican, was also known for endorsing the fist Black President Barack Obama, a democrat, and in the process, declining to run for president himself despite pressures from his party and republican supporters and instead endorsing other candidates, mostly democrats.
General Colin Powell: Black African-American with Many Firsts
Colin Powell started his outstanding career as a soldier during the Vietnam War. Due to his outstanding performances and abilities, he quickly raised through the ranks and was noticed by top Republican politicians. President Ronald Reagan appointed him the first Black national security adviser. Then, under President George H.W. Bush's administation, he was appointed American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the youngest and first Black to assume the role.
His accomplishments also earned him, twice, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest honors in the United States. He also earned the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
General Colin Powell: Outstanding Military and Political Career with Integrity
A well respected figure within the Republican party, General Colin Powell was often expected to a US Presidential candidate. These expectations never materialized. Instead, disappointed with his Republican party's policies and actions regarding race in the US, the treatment of Blacks and Browns, police brutality against Blacks, and the lack of clear commitment to resolving racial tensions, he used his influence and switched to help elect Democrats to the White House. Hence, In the final weeks of the 2008 US Presidential campaign, General Powell endorsed Barack Obama, who became the first Black president.
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Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants and grew up in South Bronx. He participated in The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) , while attending the City College of New York. In ROTC he lead the precision drill team. There, he attained the cadet colonel rank, a top rank offered by the corps.
After graduation, he joined the US Army in 1958 and served in the Vietnam war.
During his military and political career he led or was involved as a top leader in several US military actions and operations. These include the Panama operation in 1989, the Gulf War in 1991, the US intervention in Somalia in 1993, and the War in Iraq in early 2000's. Some of these operations were controversial, especially the war in Iraq and the US Humanitarian Intervention in Somalia. For the war in Iraq, he was the one selling the decision to the United Nations. Later, he acknowledged some of the mistakes made under his leadership, especially regarding the war in Iraq. In fact, Colin Powell's reputation was tarnished by faulty evidences presented to the World and the United Nations to push for the Iraq War.
In 2011, he told NPR reporter Steve Inskeep: "So we all believed the intelligence. The United Kingdom and other nations believed in the intelligence. And I was as disappointed as anyone, since I was the principal presenter of the case, when it turned out that so much of it was flawed, and it was single-sourced on a very unreliable source that we should have been aware of was unreliable."
In the end, referring to Iraq War failure he said: "I'll never leave it behind."
After leaving the Bush administration, General Powell, in 2005, joined the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, as a strategic adviser where he worked until his death.
General Colin Luther Powell will be remembered for his military and political accomplishments, but also his unequivocal drive to courageously acknowledge mistakes and follow the right course, in critical times.
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