Colin Powell

Colin Powell Biography

Early Years

Colin Powell was born April 5, 1937 to Luther and Maud Powell. Luther and Maud were Jamaicans who immigrated to the United States. Born in Harlem, Colin would later move to the Bronx.

While living in the Bronx, Colin attended public schools eventually graduating from Morris High as part of the class of 1954. After graduating from Morris High, Colin went on to attend the City College in New York. It was at the City College of New York that Colin had his introduction to the military. Without any direction in life, Colin decided to join the Reserve Officer’s Training Course or ROTC. He was soon promoted to unit commander. This was Colin Powell’s calling.

Military Career

Colin graduated from City College of New York in 1958 and quickly joined the army as a 2nd lieutenant. He met Alma Vivian Johnson while stationed at Fort Devens, MA. The two dated for four years and were married in 1962. The couple would eventually produce three children: Michael, Linda and Annemarie.

Immediately following his marriage to Alma, Colin was sent to Vietnam. A year later, in 1963, Powell was wounded. In his first tour of duty, Powell received purple heart and a bronze star. All told, Colin Powell received eleven military accommodations.

College and Early Career

After Vietnam, Colin Powell went to to attend George Washington University in Foggy Bottom in Northwest DC. While in DC, he won a coveted White House fellowship. He was assigned to the OMB (Office of Management and Budget). It was while at the OMB that Powell met Frank Carlucci and Caspar Weinberger. Later, these two figures would call upon Powell repeatedly during their tenure in the Regan administration throughout the 1980s.

As a military aide to Secretary Weinberger, Colin Powell was integral in the planning of operations in Granada and Libya.

Powell emerged as national security advisor in 1987 and later would be called to testify in front of congress in the Iran-Contra Affair.


In the early 90s, President Bush tapped Powell to chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff becoming the first African-American to ever hold the top position in the Department of defense.

Citizen Powell

After retiring from active duty in 1993, Powell wrote an auto-biography which quickly became a best seller. The book was entitled My American Journey.

America’s Promise would soon be in Alma’s hands as Colin was called back to duty by George W. Bush. General Colin Powell was appointed as secretary of State by the President in 2000.

Secretary of State Powell

Colin Powell was swiftly confirmed by the US Senate and Powell became the first African American Secretary of State of the United States. During his term as Secretary of State the Bush administration was faced with a potential war in Iraq. Once again thrown into the spotlight, Powell started taking on public criticism as a hawk who was perhaps a little too trigger happy. Despite being against a second invasion of Iraq, Powell followed the administration’s stance and presented the United State’s case to the United Nation’s Security council. Many speculated that Powell would resign over the Iraq issue, but he did not.

Powell was also instrumental with the restoration of democracy in Haiti as he arranged a last minute deal to save the troubled island nation.

Starting in 1997, Powell and his wife co-chaired America’s Promise. America’s Promise is a non-profit organization that quickly became the largest non-profit organization benefiting young children.


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