Colin Powell – A General and a Statesman


Colin Luther Powell is a United States (U.S.) statesman and a retired four-star general U.S.
Army. He made history as being the 65th United States Secretary of State (2001-2005),
serving under President George W. Bush. Born in 1937, Colin Powell was born and raised in
the Bronx, New York where he later attended the City University of New York because he
could not afford to attend New York University.

It is no doubt that his destiny lay within the City University of New York as he joined the
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), graduating with a degree in geology and as a
Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. Powell would soon realize that he could yield tremendous opportunities from making a career in the army as was seen in the advanced integration of the armed forces. This realization surfaced within his mind when he took his first post abroad in West Germany.

Department of State of the United States of America [Public domain]

In 1971, he earned a master’s degree from George Washington University by utilizing his GI bill at one of the first universities to implement the military education program. During his military career, her earned 11 medals for exemplary service after serving two tours in
Vietnam. While at George Washington University he received a coveted White House
fellowship. In 1972, Powell was appointed Battalion Commander of the Elite 101st Airborne
in South Korea.  By 1979, he was a Brigadier General and later Deputy Commander at Fort
Leavenworth.  Between 1983 and 1986, Powell, at that point a Three-Star General,
commanded the Fifth Corps, U.S. Army, in Frankfurt, Germany.


Powell continued his ambitious career journey when he became national security advisor
during the Reagan Administration, a tremendous feat that also saw him become the first
African -American to be promoted to the rank of Four-Star General, the highest rank a
military member can achieve.  In 1989, the newly elected President George H.W. Bush
appointed Powell as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  During his tenure, Powell
oversaw U.S. military actions in Panama, the Philippines and Operation Desert Storm.

Despite his atmospheric rise and the opportunity to do more in his military career, it was a
surprise to many when Powell chose to be closer to his family by retiring from the military
after 35 years of exemplary service. At that point, Powell got more in touch with writing and became a public speaker, where he once again made history when he was asked by the
George W. Bush Administration to become Secretary of State the first African-American to
hold the position.

Many hoped he would go into politics as he is undoubtedly an influential figure, but despite
all of this, he has chosen to pursue private ventures. These ventures include serving on the
Board of Trustees at Howard University, the Board of Directors of the United Negro College
Fund, the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club, and as Chairman of the Eisenhower
Fellowship Program.


PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.


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