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Colin Powell was born on this date in 1937. He is an Afro Caribbean politician, administrator, and former soldier.
Powell was born in New York City and raised in the South Bronx. His parents, Luther and Maud Powell immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. Powell was educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from the City College of New York (CCNY), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in 1958. His further academic achievements include a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University.
Secretary Powell is married to the former Alma Vivian Johnson of Birmingham, Alabama. He was a soldier for 35 years, during which time he held many command and staff positions and rose to the rank of 4-star General. His last assignment, from 1989 to 1993, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. During this time, he oversaw 28 crises, including Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Following his retirement, Powell wrote his autobiography, My American Journey, 1995. Additionally, he was a public speaker across the country and abroad. President Bush nominated Powell as Secretary of State in December 2000.
Prior to his appointment, Secretary Powell was the chairman of America’s Promise: The Alliance for Youth, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of young people. He is the recipient of many U.S. and foreign military awards and decorations. Powell’s civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal.
Several schools and other institutions have been named in his honor and he holds honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the country. The Powell family includes son Michael, daughters Linda and Anne, daughter-in-law Jane, and grandsons Jeffrey and Bryan.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.