Colin Powell, 84, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, has died from complications from COVID-19.
“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,” the former general’s family wrote on Facebook.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family wrote.
They reported that Powell had been fully vaccinated.
Powell became the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He also counted as the youngest and first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.
Powell would be thrust into the global spotlight after leading the U.S. to victory during the Gulf War, many even considering him as credible candidate for president.
“Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell. He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam. Many Presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience,” former President George W. Bush stated.
“He was National Security Adviser under President Reagan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under my father and President Clinton, and Secretary of State during my Administration.”
“He 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. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man,” Bush said.
General Powell had a reputation for generating bipartisan support, being a trusted military adviser and putting country over party, added Spencer Overton, the president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
“General Powell was a true leader and a man of many firsts,” Overton reflected. “We will remember [his] commitment to public service and Black communities. General Powell was a friend of the Joint Center and participated in various events.
“He always remembered where he came from and tried to ensure that opportunities would remain open to others – as evidenced by his support of affirmative action and other programs designed to facilitate economic mobility and the full participation of Americans from all backgrounds.”
“His memory will live on as a testament to the importance of working across party lines for Black communities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to General Powell’s entire family, including his wife Alma Powell and son, Michael K. Powell, a former FCC chair, who served as the initial chair of the Joint Center’s National Advisory Committee of its Media and Technology Institute.”
President Joe Biden remembered Powell as the son of immigrants, born in New York City, raised in Harlem and the South Bronx and as a graduate of the City College of New York.
Powell believed in the promise of America because he lived it, Biden asserted, noting that the general devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.
“As a senator, I worked closely with him when he served as National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as Secretary of State,” Biden said. “Over our many years working together – even in disagreement – Colin was always someone who gave you his best and treated you with respect.”
“Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat. He was committed to our nation’s strength and security above all. Having fought in wars, he understood better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity.”
“From his front-seat view of history, advising presidents and shaping our nation’s policies, Colin led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong. Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else – in uniform and out – and it earned him the universal respect of the American people.”
Above all, President Biden said General Powell remained a friend.
“I am forever grateful for his support of my candidacy for president and for our shared battle for the soul of the nation. I will miss being able to call on his wisdom in the future,” the President continued.
“Colin Powell was a good man. He will be remembered as one of our great Americans,” he said.