Colin Powell, First Black Secretary of State, Dies From COVID-19 Complications

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Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives to pay his respects at the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, December 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Colin Powell, 84, died on Monday due to complications from COVID-19. Powell was one of the largest figures in American public, political and military life of the past four decades. As a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, secretary of state and national security adviser he helped craft modern U.S. foreign policy, including his controversial role in the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003. Born in Harlem, N.Y., to Jamaican parents, Powell was a pioneer in a number of his public service roles, including his time as the first Black Secretary of State and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When he endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008, it was one of then-Senator Obama's most significant endorsements, particularly because of Powell's military credentials. We remember Powell's impact on American life, and how his role affected Californians of all political stripes.


Ron Elving, senior editor and correspondent on the Washington Desk, NPR News

Leon Panetta, Former Director of the CIA, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense, and Chair, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy