Colin Powell

Colin Powell

Statesman + Military Officer

Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military career, Powell also served as National Security Advisor, as Commander of the U.S.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Colin Powell.


1937 Birth Powell was born on April 5, 1937, in Harlem, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, to Jamaican immigrant parents Maud Arial (née McKoy) and Luther Theophilus Powell. … Read More


1954 17 Years Old Powell was raised in the South Bronx and attended Morris High School, from which he graduated in 1954. (This school has since closed.) … Read More


1958 21 Years Old He received his BS degree in geology from the City College of New York in 1958 and has said he was a 'C average' student. … Read More
1962 25 Years Old 1 More Event
Captain Powell served a tour in Vietnam as a South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) advisor from 1962 to 1963. … Read More


1968 31 Years Old He returned to Vietnam as a major in 1968, serving in the 23rd Infantry Division, then as assistant chief of staff of operations for the Americal Division. … Read More
1972 35 Years Old Powell served a White House Fellowship, a highly selective and prestigious position, under President Richard Nixon from 1972 to 1973.
1975 38 Years Old During 1975–1976 he attended the National War College, Washington, D.C. … Read More


1983 46 Years Old After he left Fort Carson, Powell became senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, whom he assisted during the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1986 airstrike on Libya.
1986 49 Years Old In 1986, Powell took over the command of V Corps in Frankfurt, Germany, from Robert Lewis "Sam" Wetzel.


1987 50 Years Old Following the Iran Contra scandal, Powell became, at the age of 49, Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor, serving from 1987 to 1989 while retaining his Army commission as a lieutenant general.
In April 1989, after his tenure with the National Security Council, Powell was promoted to four-star general under President George H. W. Bush and briefly served as the Commander in Chief, Forces Command (FORSCOM), headquartered at Fort McPherson, Georgia, overseeing all Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units in the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. … Read More
1992 55 Years Old Put forth as a potential Democratic Vice Presidential nominee in the 1992 U.S. presidential election or even potentially replacing Vice President Dan Quayle as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Powell eventually declared himself a Republican and began to campaign for Republican candidates in 1995.
1996 59 Years Old He was touted as a possible opponent of Bill Clinton in the 1996 U.S. presidential election, possibly capitalizing on a split conservative vote in Iowa and even leading New Hampshire polls for the GOP nomination, but Powell declined, citing a lack of passion for politics. … Read More


1997 - 2000 3 More Events
…  He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under U.S. President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, the first African American to serve in that position. … Read More
2003 66 Years Old Powell's chief role was to garner international support for a multi-national coalition to mount the invasion. To this end, Powell addressed a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, to argue in favor of military action. … Read More
A 2004 report by the Iraq Survey Group concluded that the evidence that Powell offered to support the allegation that the Iraqi government possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was inaccurate. … Read More
After retiring from the role of Secretary of State, Powell returned to private life. In April 2005, he was privately telephoned by Republican senators Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel, at which time Powell expressed reservations and mixed reviews about the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, but refrained from advising the senators to oppose Bolton (Powell had clashed with Bolton during Bush's first term). … Read More
On January 5, 2006, he participated in a meeting at the White House of former Secretaries of Defense and State to discuss United States foreign policy with Bush administration officials.
2007 70 Years Old 1 More Event
In 2007 he joined the Board of Directors of Steve Case's new company Revolution Health. … Read More
Powell, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, dropped the ceremonial first puck at a New York Islanders ice hockey game at Nassau Coliseum on January 21, 2008.
2009 - 2015 8 More Events
In March 2016, Powell denounced the "nastiness" of the 2016 Republican primaries during an interview on CBS This Morning. … Read More
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