General Colin Powell (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Scott Ableman/National Museum of American History- 2008)

The world is mourning the passing of General Colin Powell, the United States’ first Black Secretary of State, who died today at age 84. It is being reported Powell died from complications related to Covid-19.

In a statement shared on General Powell’s Facebook page, the Powell family wrote:

“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19. He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.” —  The Powell Family
Facebook Post – October 18, 2021
Born in Harlem, NY, General Colin Luther Powell, was the 65th United States Secretary of State (2001-2005), serving under President George W. Bush. He was the first African American appointed to that position and the first and only, African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell was raised in the South Bronx, where he graduated Morris High School and eventually enrolled in the City Colleges of New York where he found the path to his life’s work by joining the ROTC.

According to, after graduation in 1958, Powell was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. While stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Colin Powell met Alma Vivian Johnson of Birmingham, Alabama, and they married in 1962. The couple has three children: son Michael, and daughters Linda and Annemarie.

General Powell, who served in Vietnam, received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. During his second tour,  he was in a helicopter crash but rescued the other members aboard the craft. For that act of heroism,  he received the Soldier’s Award, eventually earning 11 military honors including the Legion of Merit. Powell went on to earn an MBA at George Washington University and served as a White House Fellow under President Nixon. In 1987, General Powell became National Security Advisor during the Reagan Administration.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush appointed Powell to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the highest military position in the Department of Defense. General Powell was the first African American officer to receive that distinction. He rose to national prominence as the lead military strategist for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Iraq and as part of a peacekeeping mission in Haiti with former President Jimmy Carter and Congressman Sam Nunn.

In 2000, President George W. Bush appointed General Powell as Secretary of State, overseeing the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Powell later admitted he did not feel good about the initial decision to go to war and later said he regretted the decision, which was marked by controversy at the time. Nonetheless Powell supported the President and helped make the case for war based on the alleged hiding of “weapons of mass destruction.” After acknowledging there were probably few if any weapons of mass destruction after invading Iraq, Powell retired. His successor was Dr. Condoleeza Rice.

Following his retirement, General Powell spoke out against the Bush administration. In September 2006, Powell joined moderate Senate Republicans in supporting more rights and better treatment for detainees at the Guantanamo detention facility. In October 2008, the lifelong Republican made headlines when he endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama for president.

In the late 1990s, Colin and Alma Powell founded America’s Promise, an organization dedicated to uplifting youth.

General Colin Powell a the Kennedy Center after speaking at a 9/11 Commemoration concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and the United States Marine Band. (Photo: September 11, 2021 – Facebook)

Fully vaccinated, General Powell died of complications from COVID-19 on October 18, 2021. He is survived by his wife of 59-years Alma, children Michael, Linda and Annemarie and a host of grandchildren and relatives. General Powell was 84.

This news article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Instagram or Twitter @TheBurtonWire. 


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