Colin Luther Powell was the first black Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush.
The son of Jamaican immigrants, he was born on April 5, 1937 and raised in the South Bronx. After graduating as a member of ROTC at City College in New York, he took an army commission and later served in Vietnam.
After his service he got his Masters of Business Administration from George Washington University.
A committed professional soldier for 35 years, Powell moved up through the ranks and held a series of senior commands on the rise to the rank of 4-star General. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed him Head of the National Security council.
He later took over the Army Forces Command and was promoted to the highest military position in the Department of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by President H.W. Bush. This is the highest military position in the Department of Defense.
He was the first African-American to get the distinction of serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
After retiring from his army career in 1993, Colin Powell published a best-selling autobiography called My American Journey in 1995. He also served as chairman of America’s Promise, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering character in young people.
He came upon national prominence again in 2000 when President George W. Bush appointed him to be Secretary of State and the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed him to the post.
Unfortunately Powell made headlines for his role in supporting the case for the ill-advised U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2004, he resigned as Secretary of State and admitted that it was unlikely that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which was the reason the administration used for invading Iraq.
Since his resignation, Powell continued to speak out for what he believes in, no matter how out of step it may be with his political party. He often comments on timely political issues and openly criticized the Bush Administration on several issues.
Though he is a longtime Republican, Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president, a move which many hoped would help bridge the bipartisan gap and drum up Republican support for Obama.
These days, Powell serves on the Board of Directions of Revolution Health and on the Council of Foreign Relations.