Colin Luther Powell (1937-2021) was born in Harlem. His neighborhood was so ethnically mixed that he said, "Everybody was a minority. You were either black, Puerto Rican, Jewish, or some European extraction."
An avid reader and educated in public schools, he said he was a C student who was "not considered a bright star," but was encouraged by his hard-working immigrant Jamaican parents to make something of his life.
He did: National Security Advisor to Ronald Reagan from 1986-1989, then the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989-1993 for George Bush and Secretary of State for George W Bush (2000-2004).
Articulate and bright, the down-to-earth four-star general projects dignity and strength. "When someone stumbles," he advised, "I don't believe in stomping on him. My philosophy is "Pick 'em up, dust 'em off and get 'em moving again."
A Vietnam War hero with many military decorations, including the Soldiers Medal, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart, Powell received the Presidential Medal of Honor for his Desert Storm leadership. He said the toughest part of his job was "making a recommendation to the President to use military force, knowing that he will act on your advice, and that people will die."
His memoir My American Journey (1995) was a best seller. When he took himself out of the running for President in 1996, he explained, "We decided it would be best for me, and best for my wife, to serve the nation in private life."
With heart and dedication, Powell led America's Promise - the Alliance for Youth, an organization that helps the youth of America succeed with job training, mentoring, and career guidance.
"Fifteen million youngsters are not currently on the road to success," Powell explained. "We want to keep them safe from drugs and crime."
ďWith all of the surpluses we have, itís time to focus on the problems facing our children."
More Colin POWELL Quotations
Have a vision and don't let go of it.