Colin Luther Powell ( KOHL-in; April 5, 1937 – October 18, 2021) was an American politician, statesman, diplomat, and United States Army officer who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African-American Secretary of State. He served as the 15th United States National Security Advisor from 1987 to 1989 and as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993. Powell was born in New York City in 1937 to parents who had emigrated from Jamaica. He was raised in the South Bronx and educated in the New York City public schools, receiving a bachelor's degree in geology from the City College of New York (CCNY). He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. He was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which time he held many command and staff positions and rose to the rank of four-star general. He was Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command in 1989. Powell's last military assignment, from October 1989 to September 1993, was as Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, the highest military position in the United States Department of Defense. During this time, he oversaw 28 crises, including the invasion of Panama in 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1990–1991. He formulated the Powell Doctrine, which limits American military action unless it satisfies criteria regarding American national security interests, overwhelming force, and widespread public support. He served as Secretary of State under Republican president George W. Bush. As Secretary of State, Powell gave a speech before the United Nations regarding the rationale for the Iraq War, but he later admitted that the speech contained substantial inaccuracies. He was forced to resign after Bush was reelected in 2004.In 1995, Powell wrote his autobiography, My American Journey, and then in retirement another book, It Worked for Me, Lessons in Life and Leadership (2012). He pursued a career as a public speaker, addressing audiences across the country and abroad. Before his appointment as Secretary of State, he chaired America's Promise. In the 2016 United States presidential election, Powell, who was not a candidate, received three electoral votes from Washington for the office of President of the United States. He won numerous U.S. and foreign military awards and decorations. His civilian awards included the Presidential Medal of Freedom (twice), the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Secretary's Distinguished Service Award. Powell died from complications of COVID-19 in October 2021, while being treated for a form of blood cancer that affected his immune system.
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