Bronx Native General Colin Powell Has Died

President Barack Obama hosts an education roundtable in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with business leaders and America’s Promise Alliance Chair Alma Powell, center, and Founding Chair General Colin Powell, left, to discuss what the business community can do to ensure we have a skilled, educated and competitive US workforce, July 18, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

By Rachelle Anthony

Former United States Secretary of State General Colin Powell died early on October 18. Powell was 84 years old. The Powell family said he died due to Covid-19 complications. While fully vaccinated, Powell was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer in the plasma cells, a treatment that weakens the immune system.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” said the family in its release.

Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937 in Harlem, New York City, and was raised in the Bronx. He attended City College, the City University of New York (CUNY) where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. Powell also received his MBA from Georgetown University.

A mural of Powell is located on a NYC public school building, P.S. 140, on Eagle Avenue at 163 Street and also next to a deli on Wallace and Allerton Avenue in the Bronx. He was admired and he inspired the people in his native New York City Bronx borough.

Powell joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC), served in Vietnam, and won a White House Fellowship. In 1987 he became the National Security Advisor and in 1989 he was appointed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A trailblazer, one of the most recognizable, and definitely a remarkable man was Colin Powell. In 1993 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He won this award again in 1993 with distinction.  The person selected to receive this extraordinary award is for their especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace or cultural.

In 2001, under former President George W. Bush, Powell became the 65th United States Secretary of State. He was the first African American United States Secretary of State and the highest ranked.

George W. Bush said, “Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell. He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam. Many Presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience…He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice.” 

Thousands of condolences and tributes for Powell have been posted on social media.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a good friend to Powell expressed his condolences “The world loss one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed. I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. He always made time for me. He always had great counsel. I feel as if I have a hole in my heart, (Colin was) man who was respected around the globe. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”

What Powell called a “blot” on his esteemed record was the case he presented to the United Nations Security Council for former President George W. Bush to launch a war against Iraq which was under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The United States intelligence was convinced that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  The United States entered into war with Iraq – Gulf War which lasted eight years, 2003 until 2011, without any finding of weapons of mass destruction as claimed.  Powell later stated and admitted that his presentation included inaccuracies by others within the Bush administration.

Flags at the White House have been flown half-staff to honor Powell. New York State Governor Hochul ordered flags at all NYS office buildings to be flown at half-staff, Connecticut Governor Lamont also ordered flags at half-staff, more states are likely to follow and have flags flown half-staff to honor Powell.

President Joe Bill said, “Jill and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend and a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity, General Colin Powell.  The son of immigrants, born in New York City, raised in Harlem and the South Bronx, a graduate of the City College of New York, he rose to the highest ranks of the United States military and to advise four presidents. He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.

Above all, Colin was my friend. Easy to share a laugh with. A trusted confidant in good and hard times. He could drive his Corvette Stingray like nobody’s business—something I learned firsthand on the race track when I was Vice President.

Powell’s memoir “My American Journey” received excellent reviews and became a best seller. “A great American success story”, said the New York Times Book Review. “The stirring only-in America story of one determined man’s journey from the South Bronx to directing the mightiest of military forces, fascinating,” said The Washington Post Book World.

Former United States Secretary of State General Colin Powell will be missed by the many people who knew him personally as well as many who only knew him by his presence, his actions, and knew he was honorable and outstanding.  He certainly touched and inspired many people around the world.

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