Although former Secretary of State Colin Powell told Bob Woodward, in a final interview, “don’t feel sorry for me,” as he shared some of his health challenges, I cannot help but feel both sorry and sad about his passing. Colin Powell died at the age of 84 from complications due to COVID-19. Although he was fully vaccinated, his pre-existing conditions of battling multiple myeloma and early stages of Parkinson’s disease left his body unable to fight off the attack of this terrible pandemic. This amazing man, strong leader, warrior of war and skillful statesman who had accomplished so many meaningful things during his lifetime but could not avoid becoming one of the 720,000 Americans who have lost their life to COVID-19.
Colin Powell was the son of Jamaican immigrants Luther and Maud Powell. This modern-day renaissance man was raised in the South Bronx and educated in the New York City public schools. It was at City College of New York, where Powell studied geology, that he found his calling — in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He soon became commander of his unit. This experience set him on a military career and gave him structure and direction in his life. He overcame racism and segregation to become the first Black American to hold several top government positions, including National Security Adviser, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State. The four-star general worked alongside four different presidents. Many people feel, along with Dwight Eisenhower, Colin Powell was the most popular American general of the 20th century.
Colin Powell was truly a family man. His wife Alma was the love of his life and together they have three children and four grandchildren. When Bob Woodward asked him who was the greatest person, he had ever known in terms of having a moral compass and sense of the truth and without hesitation or apology he said, “Alma Powell.” Mrs. Powell was not only his wife, his compass, mother of their children, but she was also an accomplished woman in her own right. She graduated from Fisk University and then went on to study at Emerson College in Boston. She is an author and is the chair of America’s Promise, which is the nation’s largest cross-sector of organizations dedicated to improving the lives of young people. She provided her husband with strength and dignity, as well as wisdom and faithful instruction.
In the 1990s the Republican Party was interested in having Mr. Powell run for President of the United States. Although many thought he was a man of character, for various reasons, Mr. Powell elected not to become a presidential candidate. Though he decided not to run for President, he still had an interest in politics. He was always focused on broad themes of community, tolerance, and personal responsibility. He ran his life based on his values and he did not let anything steer him differently. In the end, although he was a registered Republican, he crossed the aisle and supported the Democratic party when he could not stand with his registered party. Whatever title you give him, Colin Powell was a Patriot and loved this country until the end.
Though he is physically no longer with us his philosophies are well chronicled in his autobiography, My American Journey and It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership.
Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on.