Colin Powell served as the first black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff

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Colin Powell served as the first black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff

Colin Powell gives interviews in 2014 with the media on the red carpet during the world premiere of the movie

Colin Powell gives interviews in 2014 with the media on the red carpet during the world premiere of the movie "Fury" at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

IMAGE / Mr. Marvin Lynchard, Department of Defense / Wikimedia Commons

Colin Powell gives interviews in 2014 with the media on the red carpet during the world premiere of the movie "Fury" at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

IMAGE / Mr. Marvin Lynchard, Department of Defense / Wikimedia Commons

IMAGE / Mr. Marvin Lynchard, Department of Defense / Wikimedia Commons

Colin Powell gives interviews in 2014 with the media on the red carpet during the world premiere of the movie "Fury" at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

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When asked about the story of Colin Powell, sophomore Shelby Cragg said, “His story is inspirational. It’s a step forward for African-Americans everywhere.”

Powell grew up in Harlem and was born to poor Jamaican immigrants.

After graduating from City College of New York and receiving a bachelor’s degree in geology, Powell joined the Army.

He was the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He received a purple heart during his first tour in the Vietnam War after stepping on a Punji stake.

During his second tour, Powell saved three people from a burning helicopter crash and received the Soldier’s Medal.

Powell also became President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser after the Iran-contra affair.

IMAGE / MSgt. Don Wetterman, U.S. Army / Public Domain
Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff waves from his motorcade during the 1991 Persian Gulf War Welcome-Home Parade in New York City.

In 1989, Powell was promoted by President George H. W. Bush to the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He became a national figure during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Retiring from the Army in 1993, Powell has continued to play a major role in American politics, serving as Secretary of State in George W. Bush’s administration.

Powell is the creator of the “13 Rules of Leadership” and lived by these throughout his military career.

His service as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is significant, especially today, because he was the first and, so far, the only black man to hold this position.

Powell’s accomplishment holds even more inspiration as we celebrate black history month.

Freshman Ethan McArthur believes Powell can be a motivation for many Americans.

IMAGE / Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
President Ronald Reagan talks with National Security Advisor Colin Powell in 1988.

“Like anything, being the first can inspire others to follow in your footsteps,” McArthur said, “It makes a goal more reachable, it makes it possible.”

Powell gained some momentary fame when he criticized the 2016 Republican primary as being similar to a reality show and wanted the Republican candidates to “stop with the nastiness.”

Powell is a member of the Republican Party but did, however, endorse former President Barack Obama during both of his campaigns.

Even as Powell ages, his service to his country and the black community will not be forgotten.

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