General Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937, in Harlem New York City, borough of Manhattan, to Jamaican immigrants, Luther Theophilus Powell and Maud Ariel McKoy-Powell. They emigrated from rural Jamaica to the United States in the 1920s. General Powell’s only sibling, Marilyn Elise Powell-Berns predeceased him on July 22, 2005.
Powell became a Four-Star General, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first US Secretary of State (thus becoming the 65th).
General Powell served the nation (USA) in three wars: The Vietnam War, The Gulf War, and the war in Afghanistan. Incidentally, he served two tours in Vietnam, and he wore the uniform of a soldier for 35 years.
Powell attended the Public Schools in New York city and went on to City College, an affiliate of CUNY (City University of New York) where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Geology. He later did graduate studies at George Washington University where he received the MBA degree.
While attending City College of New York, young Colin joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). He later described that experience as one of the happiest experiences of his life. After attending basic training at Fort Benning, Powell was assigned to the 48th Infantry, in West Germany, as a platoon leader.
General Colin Luther Powell died as he lived:
He never complained about his failing health and celebrated life to its fullest. The former foot soldier, Commander and Statesman, succumbed to Covid-19 complications at the Walter Reed National Military hospital in Bethesda Maryland. He died on Monday October 18, 2021. He leaves to mourn his wife Alma Johnson- Powell to whom he was married for 59 years; his three children: Michael, Linda, and Annemarie Powell.
His decades long career repeatedly made history and who was for years one of the Republican Party’s Elder Statesman. Powell would famously discuss his leadership style by saying: “Leadership is solving problems.”
The son of Jamaican parents turned General once said: “There are no secrets to success. Success is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from your failures.” He was someone who advised “not to take counsel of your fears or naysayers” and that “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
As noted earlier, Powell was the first African American to become Secretary of State (2001-2005). He served as the first African American male National Security Advisor to the President of the United States (the 16th), from 1987-1989 and the 12th US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from (1989-1993).
General Colin Luther Powell was not a candidate for President in the 2016 General Elections, but he received 3 Electoral votes from Washington DC for the Office of President of the United States.
Back in the 1992 US Presidential elections, Powell was offered as a potential Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee. Even potentially replacing Vice President Dan Quayle as the Republican nominee. Powell was asked by his party (GOP) to run against Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, in the General Election of 1996. Powell declined citing: “a lack of passion for politics.”
In the 2008 General Elections, Powell backed the Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama, an African American US Senator representing the state of Illinois. In doing so, Powell did not endorse his long-standing friend Hillary Clinton. Powell did the same thing in 2012 when President Obama ran for re-election.
General Colin Powell was keenly aware of his Jamaican roots and visited the birth country of his parents many times. In his book, “My American Journey”, Powell unabashedly claimed that his music is Calypso and Reggae, not Motown and Soul. His favorite drink is Appleton’s rum, not beer or whiskey, and comfort food for him is not chitlins and greens, but roast goat, plantains, peas and rice.
The Four-Star General won numerous United States and Foreign military awards and decorations. His civilian awards included the Presidential Medal of Freedom (Twice), The Congressional Gold Medal, The Presidential Citizens medal and the Secretary’s Distinguished service award.
The Former highest Diplomat in the world was engaged in several charities including the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies (AFUWI), located at 767 3rd Avenue, Ste 301, New York, NY 10017. AFUWI is the Fundraising body for the University of the West Indies. AFUWI builds relationships with sources and administer scholarships for students at 4 campuses.
In 1997, the Philanthropist Powell, founded
“America’s Promise” with the objective of helping children from all socio-economic sectors and backgrounds. In that same year, the Colin L Powell Center for Leadership and Service was established. The mission of the Center is to, “prepare new generations of publicly engaged leaders from populations previously unrepresented in public service and policy circles, to build a strong culture of Civic engagement at City College, NY and to mobilize Campus resources to meet pressing Community needs and serve the public good.”
THE POWELL DOCTRINE STATES:
That a list of questions has to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:
- Is a vital national security interest threatened?
- Do we have a clear attainable objective?
- Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
- Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
- Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
- Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
- Is the action supported by the American people?
- Do we have genuine broad international support?
In retirement General Colin Powell wrote several books including, “It worked for me: In Life and Leadership.” Thank you, General Powell, for graciously accepting JNA’s invitation to be the keynote speaker at our Jamaican Independence Ball in 2008.
Good night, Sir. You have made the United States safer and for that we the citizens and beneficiaries are eternally grateful. The people of Jamaica, your ancestral home, are very proud of your accomplishments. Rest in peace my friend.
Rev Dr Noel Godfrey Elaine Knight, Ph.D.
Vice President President