COLIN POWELL Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Colin Luther Powell, US Army General was born in Harlem on April 5, 1937. His parents were Jamaican immigrants who stressed the importance of education and personal achievement, Powell was raised in the South Bronx and where he graduated from high school without having formed any definite ambition or direction in life. A member of ROTC, he took an army commission after graduation and later served in Vietnam. Powell also earned his Masters of Business Administration from George Washington University.


Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, holding a series of senior commands and rising to the rank of 4-star General before being appointed Head of the National Security Council by President Reagan in 1987. Two years later, he took over the Army Forces Command, and was made Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President Bush. The post is the the highest military position in the Department of Defense and Powell is the first African-American officer to receive this distinction. He oversaw 28 crises, including Operation Desert Storm in 1991.


Powell served a second tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968-69. During this second tour he was injured in a helicopter crash. Despite his own injuries, he managed to rescue his comrades from the burning helicopter and was awarded the Soldier’s Medal. In all, he has received 11 decorations, including the Legion of Merit.


Powell retired from the army in 1993 and published a best-selling autobiography, My American Journey, in 1995. From 1997 to 2000, he was chairman of America’s Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering character and competence in young people.


In 2000, President George W. Bush appointed Powell Secretary of State, and he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. During his tenure, Powell came under fire for his role in building the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His chief role before and after the invasion was to garner international support for a multi-national coalition. In 2004, after acknowledging that it was unlikely that Iraq possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, Powell announced his resignation as Secretary of State. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was his successor.


Since his retirement, Powell has remained vocal on political topics, openly criticizing the Bush Administration on a number of issues. In 2006, he was a speaker at a special series called Get Motivated, along with former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani. Powell also joined Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, as a “strategic limited partner.”


Powell is married to Alma Vivian Johnson; they have three children and two grandchildren.