African American Hero of the Day

African American Almanac
ISBN: 9781578593231

Who was the army general who became President George W. Bush's first secretary of state?

  • In 1987 President Ronald Reagan named him national security adviser.
  • He was named chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989.
  • He is credited as being one of the chief architects of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
  • He was a key figure in the disarming of Iraq with the cooperation of the United Nations.

Colin L. Powell (1937--)

Army General, Former National Security Adviser, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State

Colin Luther Powell was born in New York City, New York, on April 5, 1937, and graduated from Morris High School in 1954. In 1958 he received a B.S. in geology from City College of New York; while in college Powell was active in the ROTC program and attained the rank of cadet colonel.

Powell began his military career immediately after graduation by accepting a second lieutenant's commission in the U.S. Army. In 1962 he served as a military advisor in South Vietnam. Returning to the United States, Powell earned an M.B.A. from George Washington University in 1971, and in 1972 he accepted his first political appointment as White House Fellow. This led to his promotion to brigade commander in 1976 and assistant division commander in 1981.

In 1983 Powell was back in a political position, serving as military assistant to the secretary of defense. In 1987, after holding posts with the National Security Council, Powell was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the position of national security adviser, head of the National Security Council. In 1989 Powell took the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the United States. From this position, Powell received international recognition as one of the chief architects of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In the autumn of 1993 Powell retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Powell stepped back into political life in December 2000, when President George W. Bush nominated Powell for the post of secretary of state. After a unanimous confirmation Powell served as the first African American in this post. His primary efforts were placed on the War on Terror, which officially began in September 2001. Powell successfully brought other nations into this campaign and enforced the disarming of Iraq, as declared by the United Nations. Powell remained in this esteemed post until November 15, 2004, after the re-election of George Bush.

Powell continues as an active contributor in community-based organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, and the Advisory Board of Children's Health fund, and as a limited partner in Kleiner Perkins Culfied & Byers beginning in 2005.

Powell is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit Award, Distinguished Service Medal, Soldier's Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Award, as well as numerous honorary degrees.

From African American Almanac: 400 Years of Triumph, Courage and Excellence by Lean'tin Bracks, (c) 2012 Visible Ink Press(R). A wealth of milestones, inspiration, and challenges met . . .

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