From the Son of Jamaican Immigrants to a Pentagon Heavyweight: How the First Black Secretary of State Colin Powell Went From Childhood in the Bronx, to Soldier in Vietnam, and Rose Rapidly to Lead the US Into Iraq and Afghanistan

Colin Powell, the Harlem-born son of Jamaican immigrants who was awarded military honors for saving fellow soldiers from a burning helicopter crash in Vietnam and went on to become the first black Secretary of State, has died at age 84.

The former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was fully vaccinated but died of COVID-19 complications, his family announced on Facebook.

He had previously been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that impacts the body’s ability to fight infections. Powell also suffered from Parkinson’s and underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2003.

He was born in New York on April 5, 1937 to Luther and Maude Powell, who arrived in Philadelphia on a ‘banana boat’ steamer from Jamaica in the 1920s.

Powell spent his youth being educated in the New York City public school system through college, when a military career first attracted his attention.

A larger-than-life figure across global community, Powell rose from modest means to oversee some of the most significant foreign policy shifts across the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The retired four-star general’s decades-long legacy was marred by a 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council in which he claimed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Using information that was later proven false, the then-Secretary of State used the purported evidence to justify the US invasion of Iraq. He stepped down from his position at the end of Bush’s first term.

Powell told ABC in 2005 he regarded the speech as a ‘blot’ that will ‘always be a part of my record,’ adding ‘It was painful. It’s painful now.’

But the former chief diplomat was highly regarded across multiple administrations beginning as a White House Fellow under Richard Nixon.

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Source: Daily Mail