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Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks by video
feed during the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Colin Powell, a son of Jamaican immigrants and Vietnam war veteran who rose through the ranks of the US military to become a four-star general, the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later served as the first Black Secretary of State — has died of complications caused by Covid-19.

Powell, whose family announced his passing on his official Facebook page Morning, was 84.

"General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19," read the statement from the family, which also noted that he was fully vaccinated. "We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American."


Former President George W. Bush appointed Powell to serve as his first secretary of State in 2000 issued a statement following the news saying that he and his wife Laura are" deeply saddened" by the death.

A New York native, Powell was born in Harlem and grew up in the South Bronx before attending the metropolis' City College where he joined the Army through ROTC. He left the school with a bachelor's degree in geology and a commission as a second lieutenant in the recently desegregated Army.

During his 35-year military career, Powell served two combat tours in Vietnam — earning military honors for both — was national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan helping negotiate an end to the Cold War and encourage cooperation between the Soviet Union and the United States. As chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he was thrust into public view when he spearheaded the invasion of Panama. But it was his steady hand and resolute demeanor that made him a national hero following his handling of the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf.

Powell's popularity peaked in the mid-90s with the publication of his memoir “My American Journey,” in 1995. The best-seller was a phenomenon, dragging the General to new heights of popularity and many pundits began to call for a presidential run for the Republican.
Eventually, Powell who wrote of his political leanings in the book, "Some people have rushed to hang a Republican label around my neck. I am not, however, knee-jerk anti-government. I was born a New Deal, Depression-era kid. Franklin Roosevelt was a hero in my boyhood home,″ announced he would not run but hoped to help broaden the appeal of the party of which he counted himself a member.

Following a short stint in retirement, it was Powell's 2001 return to public life as secretary of state for President George W. Bush, that eventually put some tarnish in the eyes of some on what had been a sterling legacy as a soldier and statesman.

His now-infamous February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was the rallying point for the nation to go to war. The evidence was later proved to be false and the conflicts that resulted from the actions taken then still afflict the world today.

In 2005 Powell told ABC News’ Barbara Walters that his speech to the United Nations was “painful” for him personally and would forever be a “blot” on his record. “I am the one who presented it to the world on behalf of the United States,” said Mr. Powell, acknowledging that his presentation “will always remain a part of my record."

In later years Powell moved away from the Republican party. He endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama during his 2008 run for president. He also said he would vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in leaked emails that were confirmed to be authentic when the former businessman was preparing to enter the race.
“Trump is a national disgrace and an international pariah,” wrote Powell, who abhorred Trump's constant implications that President Obama was not a United States citizen. Another email summed up his thoughts on the matter entirely, “Yup, the whole birther movement was racist,” he said.

Powell is survived by his wife Alma, and children Linda, Annemarie and Michael.

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