Colin Powell, The First Black US Secretary Of State, Dies At 84 From Cancer And Covid-19 Complications

America has lost a fierce leader. 

“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff passed away yesterday morning (October 18) due to complications from Covid 19. He was fully vaccinated,” said a statement from Powell’s family that was posted to Facebook. “We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment.  We have lost a remarkable and loving  husband, father, grandfather, and a great American.” 

Powell, who was 84, served as the first Black and 65th US Secretary of state up under numerous Republican administrators from 2001 until 2005. His career began in 1987 when he became the first African-American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Battling cancer and complications from Covid-19, Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response, as well as Parkinson’s disease. However, people who are immunocompromised have a higher susceptibility to viruses.

Powell reportedly was vaccinated early on and was administered a second shot in February of this year. His booster shot, a follow-up to the second shot, was to be given this past week. Unfortunately, Powell was unable to receive it after falling ill. While no Covid-19 vaccines are 100% effective, it is still considered to be operative in preventing death from the virus.

Despite his untimely passing, Powell accomplished a lot during his career. In 1962, he served as an adviser sent to South Vietnam by the late President John F. Kennedy. During his first tour of duty, he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star a year later. Powell was decorated with 11 military honors including the Legion of Merit. 

Perhaps the most highlighted achievement for Powell was his servitude during George H.W. Bush’s presidency. Powell became the youngest and first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pushing him into the limelight of popularity. His notoriety soared even more in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War. He was also considered a presidential contender at one point, but his reputation serving up under the Republican party, and advocating for the Iraq War alienated possible Black voters. 

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 gained 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.

“I think it shows to the world what is possible in this country,” Powell said of his history-making nomination during his Senate confirmation hearing. “It shows to the world that: Follow our model, and over a period of time from our beginning if you believe in the values that espouse, you can see things as miraculous as me sitting before you to receive your approval.”

With time, as does everything, Powell had a change of heart toward the Republican Party and would eventually use his political capital to help elect Democrats to the White House, most notably Barack Obama. Powell endorsed Obama in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign prior to his historical victory. 

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, whom he married in 1962, as well as three children: son Michael and daughters Annemarie and Linda.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with all of his loved ones.

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  1. Mr. Colin Powell was one of a kind, God Bless his family , he will never be forgotten..!!

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