Black Men

Colin Luther Powell; The First African American Secretary of State

Colin Luther Powel; The First African American Secretary of State

By Moses Kamuiru


Colin Powell was appointed by President George W. Bush to be secretary of state on January the 20th in 2001 after the US Senate unanimously confirmed him. He was the first African-American to have served in the position which he served for four years till the 26th of January, 2005. Powel also served as a military officer for 35 years in which he served as the National Security Advisor, Commander of the US Army Forces Command and was also the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989.

Rise to Prominence

Powell is the son of two Jamaican immigrants and was born on April the 5th, 1937 in New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Raised in South Bronx, Powell attended City College of New York where he started his military service by joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Upon completion, Powell was commissioned as a second Lieutenant in the US Army in 1958. During his three and a half decades service, Colin Powell served two tours in Vietnam and was stationed in West Germany and South Korea. Powel also served as President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor between 1987 and 1989. In 1993, after his retirement, Colin Powell founded America’s Promise which helps children at risk.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Powell’s last military assignment was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which is the highest military position offered by the Department of Defense. Powel became the youngest officer at age 52 to serve in that position and also the first from the African American descent. During his tenure, he oversaw 28 crises in the George H.W Bush administration. These included Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and the Panama invasion to oust General Manuel Noriega in 1989. General Powell rarely advocated sending American men and women into harm’s way as the first solution to an international crisis and prescribed containment and diplomacy instead which earned him the nickname of a “Reluctant Warrior.”

Influence on US Diplomacy

At the start of his term as Secretary of State, Colin Powell emphasized the importance of reaffirming diplomatic alliances globally, where he supported working towards an amicable peace in the Middle East, a national missile defense system and enforcing sections as the priority in potential hotspots such as Iraq. However, his term during the Bush administration was faced with challenges after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Secretary Powell was one of the chief advocators of taking a fast military action against al-Qaeda and demanded the immediate cooperation of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the US search for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He pressed to have UN inspectors investigate the likelihood of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction manufacturing. Powell tendered his resignation as Secretary of State on November 15th, 2004 returning to a private busy life and working for America’s Promise Alliance.


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Colin Luther Powell (\born April American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the United States Secretary of State…


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