People Who Kick Buts: Colin Powell
A dream doesn’t become reality through magic. It takes sweat, determination and hard work.
- Born on April 5, 1937 in Harlem.
- An American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army.
- He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position.
- During his military career, Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Persian Gulf War. He was the first, and so far the only, African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Born to Jamaican immigrant parents Maud Arial (née McKoy) and Luther Theophilus Powell.
- Powell was raised in the South Bronx and attended Morris High School, a former public school in the Bronx, from which he graduated in 1954.
While at school, he worked at a local baby furniture store where he picked up Yiddish from the shopkeepers and some of the customers.
He received his Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the City College of New York in 1958 and was a self-admitted C average student.
He was later able to earn a Master of Business Administration degree from the George Washington University in 1971, after his second tour in Vietnam.
- Powell described joining the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) during college as one of the happiest experiences of his life; discovering something he loved and could do well, he felt he had “found himself.”
- In his autobiography, My American Journey, Powell named several officers he served under who inspired and mentored him. As a lieutenant colonel serving in South Korea, Powell was very close to General Henry “Gunfighter” Emerson. Powell said he regarded Emerson as one of the most caring officers he ever met. Emerson insisted his troops train at night to fight a possible North Korean attack, and made them repeatedly watch the television film Brian’s Song to promote racial harmony.
- Powell married Alma Johnson on August 25, 1962. Their son, Michael Powell, was the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2001 to 2005. His daughters are Linda Powell, an actress, and Annemarie Powell. As a hobby, Powell restores old Volvo and Saab cars.