Colin Powell Dies from COVID-19

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is seen in 1991. (AP Photo)

By Jieun Paik , Staff Writer

Colin Powell, America’s very first black Secretary of State, passed away from COVID-19 related complications on Monday, October 18, 2021. He served as the 65th U.S. Secretary of State and passed away at age 84.

Born in Harlem, New York, Powell worked his way up the ranks of the U.S. Army through the R.O.T.C. He served as the National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan and was well-liked for his strong leadership skills and dedication.

In 2001, Powell became the Secretary of State to President George W. Bush. This event was monumental in its importance, as this was the highest rank a black public official had ever held. Powell officially held the fourth highest rank in the entirety of America until Barack Obama’s presidency in 2008.

In fact, he was once under consideration for becoming the very first black president. However, his reputation was forever stained when he gave misinformation in support of the Iraq war. Powell would never fully recover, and his hopes for becoming president never came true. He largely disappeared from the public eye for a couple of years, likely to avoid the criticisms of his decisions.

But in the 2008 election, Powell’s sudden endorsement of Barack Obama’s campaign was the push many people needed to vote for him. Although he was a registered member of the Republican party, his support for Obama was indicative of his belief in a greater picture. Powell and Obama did not know each other personally, but Powell said that Obama was intelligent and well-spoken. He believed Obama would shape the future for diverse voices to be heard.

“He never denied the role that race played in his own life and in our society more broadly,” Obama said. “But he also refused to accept that race would limit his dreams, and through his steady and principled leadership, helped pave the way for so many who would follow.”

Powell later left the Republican party in 2021, after the events of the Capitol riot.

A trailblazer for black government officials, his life represented the ideals of America. He grew up neither rich nor powerful, yet through hard work, he influenced the lives of countless people.

Colin Powell is survived by his wife Alma Powell, and his three children.

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