Colin Powell: key facts from his life

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Vincent Michel/AP</span>
Photograph: Vincent Michel/AP

Colin Powell, former military leader and the first Black US secretary of state, has died of complications from Covid-19 at the age of 84. Here is a look back at some key facts from Powell’s life, reported by CNN:

  • Powell was born on 5 April 1937 in Harlem, New York. His parents were Jamaican immigrants, his dad, a shipping clerk, and his mom, a seamstress.

  • In college, Powell participated in ROTC, a military training program, and was leader of the precision drill team, earning a top rank.

  • While serving two tours during the Vietnam war, Powell was injured in a helicopter crash and rescued by two fellow soldiers.

  • Powell earned several military and civilian awards in his lifetime including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, twice.

  • Powell was the youngest person, as well as the first Black person, to serve as chairman of the joint chief of staff during the George HW Bush administration.

  • In 1993, Powell was named an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Powell helped negotiate the return of the former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, in 1994.

  • In 2001, Powell was sworn in as the first Black US secretary of state.

  • Powell published two memoirs, My American Journey and It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership.

  • After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, Powell underwent surgery at the Walter Reed army medical center.

  • Powell pushed for a swift military response to 9/11 in 2001, and Iraq intervention in 2003. He was criticized for presenting questionable intelligence to the United Nations in a 75-minute speech, which he later called a blot on his record.

  • During the summer of 2007, Powell began criticizing the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq, the increasing military presence in the country, and Guantánamo Bay.

  • Powell served as one of the honorary co-chairs for Barack Obama’s inauguration, endorsing Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

  • Following the 6 January insurrection, Powell said he no longer considered himself a Republican.

  • Powell suffered from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, which can lead to a severely compromised immune response.

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