Colin Powell is a retired four-star general of the United States Army. He is currently serving as an American Statesman. Powell was the first African-American to serve as the Secretary of State, which he did from 2001 to 2005 under George W. Bush. Powell is to date, the only African American to serve as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a position that he held during the Persian Gulf War. Powell has also served under the National Security Advisor.
Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937 in Halem, New York City. Powell graduated from Morris High School in 1954 and attended the City College of New York thereafter. Halfway through college, Powell joined the ‘Reserve Officers Training Corps’, where he trained with the Pershing Rifles. When he graduated, he received a commission as a second lieutenant of the Army, which he accepted. Powell was assigned to the 48th Infantry Division as a Platoon Leader.
Powell went on two tours to serve for the Vietnam War; his first tour was forcibly shortened after he was injured by a Punji Stake (a booby trap similar to a wooden spike). In his second tour, he was awarded for rescuing three people from a helicopter crash which he had survived.
After the war, Powell was selected for a highly competitive White House Fellowship under President Richard Nixon. Powell then served as the senior military assistant to Caspar Weinberger, who was the Secretary of Defense at that time. Powell then went on to become the National Security Advisor after the Iran Contra Scandal. His term at the National Security Council was extremely fruitful and Powell was then promoted to four-star General under President George H. W. Bush in 1989. Immediately after appointment, Powell served as the Commander in Chief, Forces Command for a small term. He was then chosen to serve as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff towards the end of 1989. In addition to being the only African-American to have held that position, Powell was also the youngest to have ever done so, he continued to hold the position till September 30, 1993, in a period that oversaw the invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm.
Powell was put forward as a Democratic Presidential Candidate in 1992, and in 1995, Powell officially declared himself as a Republican and started campaigning for positions at the United States Senate. Powell then founded the “America’s Promise” program in 1997, which promised to help children from all social classes. Powell then campaigned for John McCain and George W. Bush for the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election.
Colin Powell was then unanimously confirmed as the Secretary of State by the United States Senate, and as the first African American to assume that position. His service alongside George W. Bush was of critical importance as it covered both the War on Terror and the Invasion of Iraq. Powell’s impressive oratory skills were also crucial in getting the United Nations Security Council to support the invasion of Iraq. He was later criticized for inadequacies in his speech, mostly false information that led people to believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Powell resigned from his position as Secretary of State on November 15, 2004, and was succeeded by the head of the National Security Council, Condoleezza Rice.