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Four Things You Might Not Know About Colin Powell

02/07/2023 12:43

Colin L. Powell (1937 - 2021) was a national hero whose accomplishments spanned from 1958 to 1993 and included serving as Ronald Reagan’s national security advisor, the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Persian Gulf War, and Secretary of State in 2001. His legacy will be remembered for generations to come, and Black History Month is a time to reflect on his achievements.

Here are four things you might not know about Colin Powell – from his formative years to lesser-known aspects of his career and personal life.

1. Powell immigrated from Jamaica

Powell’s parents immigrated to the United States from Jamaica for a better life for their family. His father, Luther Theophilus Powell, worked as a shipping clerk, while his mother, Maud Arial worked as a seamstress and cook. His parents’ experience and hard work inspired Powell to pursue a career in the U.S. military. After graduating high school, Powell enlisted in the United States Army Reserve and served for two years. During this time, he attended City College of New York (CCNY), earning a Bachelor’s degree in political science.

Colin Powell was born in New York City but his parent emigrated from Jamaica

2. He had a love for cars and aviation

As a young man, Powell developed a love for cars and racing. He was an avid fan of NASCAR and enjoyed visiting racetracks with his father. His passion for speed paid off in the military—he became known as one of the fastest drivers in the U.S. Army. Powell even set a record for the fastest time driving an M-2 Bradley armored personnel carrier.

In addition to his love of cars and racing, Powell was passionate about aviation. He earned his private pilot’s license while in the Army and became proficient at flying helicopters. His skills earned him a spot as one of the first Black aviators in the military. After leaving the Army, Powell continued to pursue his flying career and became a professional helicopter pilot for both civilian and government organizations. He was even awarded the Federal Aviation Administration’s highest honor for a pilot—the FAA Gold Seal of Excellence.

Colin Powell also had an interest in cars and aviation when he was off-duty

3. Powell wrote a book and established a foundation

In 1995, Powell published his autobiography “My American Journey,” which offered insight into his life story and career path. The book became an international bestseller and was later adapted into an audiobook in 2005. In addition to his work as an author, Powell was also an active public speaker and was inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame in 2010. Powell has spoken at numerous events, both domestically and internationally, including a TEDx Talk titled “Unleashing Your Courage” that focused on the importance of being brave and not allowing fear to hold you back from achieving your goals.

Powell was also the founder of the Colin Powell Foundation, which was established in 2001 with the mission to “empower young people through education and leadership development.” The foundation provides mentorship programs and college scholarships for underprivileged students around the world.

4. He was a leader in technological innovation

During his time as Secretary of State, Powell made several important strides in the world of technology, including introducing electronic passports and establishing a comprehensive e-mail system for diplomats. He also created the first official State Department website and was an early adopter of social media, launching accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in 2009. Powell was also a key advocate for increasing digital access in developing countries to help bridge the digital divide. He personally travelled to Africa and Asia to launch several technology initiatives, such as providing students with computers, tablets, and internet access. His work served as an example of how technology can be used to create meaningful change around the world.

Colin Powell helped shape lasting change in US policies towards Africa

Powell left a lasting legacy

Colin Powell's remarkable career was an inspiring example of how hard work and dedication can lead to great accomplishments. He was a leader in the military, government, business, and technology sectors—all while making time for his family and giving back through charitable works. His passion for cars and aviation led him to discover new opportunities and set records that still stand today. Through it all, he maintained a strong sense of courage that propelled him forward even when faced with significant challenges or adversity. Colin Powell will continue to be remembered as one of the most influential individuals in Black History who helped shape our lives into what it is today.