Facts about Colin Powell

Colin Powell is 84 years old
Born: April 5, 1937
Best known as: U.S. Secretary of State, 2001-2004


Colin Powell Biography

Name at birth: Colin Luther Powell

Colin Powell became the first black American Secretary of State in U.S. history when he took office in 2001.

Powell was a career soldier who fought in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He rose through the ranks to become a general, then he became national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

Powell became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George Bush the elder, directing U.S. forces during the first Gulf War.

He then retired from the military in 1993 and published his autobiography, My American Journey, in 1995.

After years on the lecture circuit, he was chosen by George W. Bush to be Secretary of State in 2001.

Powell was often perceived to be a moderate among more conservative voices in the administration, but he was the face on TV when it came to convince the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and should be invaded by U.S. and allied forces.

Powell spoke convincingly in the United Nations in February of 2003, and the United States invaded Iraq six weeks later. No weapons of mass destruction were found, and American troops became occupiers.

U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq began in 2019, sixteen years after the invasion. Powell and others in the Bush administration admitted to an intelligence failure, but questions remain about what was known by Powell at the time of his U.N. presentation.

Powell submitted his resignation to Bush in November of 2004, shortly after Bush won election to a second term, and was succeeded as Secretary of State by Condoleezza Rice, the first black woman to hold the job.

Powell then flirted with presidential politics as a Republican, but by 2016 was drifting away from what he called “fringe” influences on the party.

A longtime critic of President Donald Trump, Powell announced he would leave the Republican party after Trump urged supporters to overturn the 2020 election results and they launched a violent attack on the nation’s capital (January 6, 2021).



Extra credit

Colin Powell’s son, Michael Powell, was Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from 2001-2005.


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