Colin Powell (b. April 5, 1937, Harlem, NY) is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. During his military career Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989), and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993). Powell was the first African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under U.S. President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, the first African American to serve in that position.
Powell was born in Harlem, NYC in 1937 and was raised in the South Bronx. His parents, Luther and Maud Powell, immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. Powell was educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from the City College of New York (CCNY), where he earned a bachelor's degree in geology. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. He also recieve a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University.
Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which time he held myriad command and staff positions and rose to the rank of 4-star General. Following his military retirement, Powell wrote his best-selling autobiography, My American Journey. In addition, he pursued a career as a public speaker, addressing audiences across the country and abroad. Prior to his appointment as Secretary of State, Powell was the chairman of America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of young people. He was nominated by President Bush on December 16, 2000 as Secretary of State. After being unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he was sworn in as the 65th Secretary of State on January 20, 2001.