General Colin L. Powell, First African-American Secretary of State, has Passed Away.
General Colin L. Powell, the first African-American Secretary of State, has passed away.
Powell's family released a statement on Facebook saying in part that Powell "passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19." Powell, who had been fully vaccinated, also suffered from several other health issues.
Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body's immune response, as well as Parkinson's, Peggy Cifrino, Powell's longtime chief of staff, confirmed to CNN. Even if fully vaccinated against Covid-19, those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk from the virus.
Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States. But his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush's first secretary of state, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a "blot" on his record.
Bush said in a statement Monday that Powell was "a great public servant" who was "such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend."
Though Powell never mounted a White House bid, when he was sworn in as Bush's secretary of state in 2001, he became the highest-ranking Black public official to date in the country, standing fourth in the presidential line of succession.
For many of us, Powell was the first person of color we saw working in the government as we came of age. He was a part of history and now he rests with the ancestors. He leaves to mourn his passing but cherish his legacy, his wife, the former Alma Vivian Johnson whom he married in 1962, and their children Linda, Annemarie and Michael Powell.
We send prayers of comfort to the Powell family.