Newswire: Colin Powell, first Black US secretary of state, dies of Covid-19 complications amid cancer battle

Colin Powell

By Devan Cole, CNN


Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership in several Republican administrations helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, has died from complications from Covid-19, his family said on Facebook. He was 84.
“General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19,” the Powell family wrote on Facebook, noting he was fully vaccinated. 

Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response, as well as Parkinson’s, Peggy Cifrino, Powell’s longtime chief of staff, confirmed to CNN. Even if fully vaccinated against Covid-19, those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk from the virus.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.

Colin Luther Powell was born April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants. After growing up in the South Bronx and attending public schools, Powell attended the City College of New York, when it was tuition-free. In college, he participated in ROTC, leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel. 

His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States. But his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush’s first secretary of state in 2003, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a “blot” on his record. 

Bush said in a statement Monday that Powell was “a great public servant” who was “such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”

Though Powell never mounted a White House bid, when he was sworn in as Bush’s secretary of state in 2001, he became the highest-ranking Black public official to date in the country, standing fourth in the presidential line of succession. 

“I think it shows to the world what is possible in this country,” Powell said of his history-making nomination during his Senate confirmation hearing. “It shows to the world that: Follow our model, and over a period of time from our beginning, if you believe in the values that espouse, you can see things as miraculous as me sitting before you to receive your approval.” 

Later in his public life, Powell would grow disillusioned with the Republican Party’s rightward lurch and would use his political capital to help elect Democrats to the White House, most notably Barack Obama, the first Black president whom Powell endorsed in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign. 

The announcement was seen as a significant boost for Obama’s candidacy due to Powell’s widespread popular appeal and stature as one of the most prominent and successful Black Americans in public life. 

Cifrino told CNN Powell was vaccinated early on and received his second shot in February. He was scheduled to get his booster shot this past week but that was when he fell ill so he wasn’t able to receive it. Covid-19 vaccines are a highly effective tool in preventing severe disease and death, but no vaccine is 100% effective. 

More than 7,000 breakthrough cases of Covid-19 that have resulted in death have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through October 12. By that time, more than 187 million people in the US were fully vaccinated. That’s one out of every 26,000 fully vaccinated people who has died of Covid-19, or 0.004%.
Of those breakthrough cases resulting in death, 85% were among people age 65 and older and 57% were among men, according to the CDC.

CDC data also show that the risk of dying from Covid-19 is more than 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than it is for vaccinated adults throughout August. Among seniors, who are more susceptible to severe Covid-19, that gap is smaller. Among those 80 and older, the risk of dying from Covid-19 in August was about five times higher among unvaccinated people than among fully vaccinated people. 

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, whom he married in 1962, as well as three children.

Newswire: At DNC: Obamas, Colin Powell, Kamala Harris start battle for ‘Soul of America’ as Biden becomes official Democratic Presidential nominee

By Hazel Trice Edney

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

( – Former Vice President Joseph “Joe” Biden officially became the Democratic Party’s candidate for president this week, receiving the nomination on Tuesday night after a string of speakers, led by former First Lady Michelle Obama, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Second Lady Jill Biden among dozens of other political stars and grassroots activists.
Wednesday’s line up was set to feature President Barack Obama and Vice Presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris.
The virtual convention, televised around the nation and world, echoed the Biden campaign slogan, “Build Back Better.” In order to protect people from the Coronavirus, the DNC went virtual with the convention, instead of meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as originally planned. Squares showing diverse people applauding in their living rooms and various places in states around the nation took the place of the live audience.
Surrounded by balloons, Biden accepted the nomination as Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” song blared in the background. He will deliver his acceptance speech on Thursday at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, likely elaborating on his personal theme, “This is a battle for the soul of America.”
The Republican National Convention will follow on Monday Aug. 24 through Thursday, starting in Charlotte, N.C. on the first day and then held remotely. President Trump and Vice President Pence, hoping to win a second term, will have their say, but not without the sting of the blistering Democratic speeches this week.
“So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” a poised Michelle Obama said in a pre-recorded speech Monday night. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”
She continued, “So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t
make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”
Biden supporters are mostly stressing his “good guy” image, stressing his reputation for decency and relatable to common people. Video images during the convention showed him riding the train home everyday in order to be there for his young sons after his first wife and their daughter were killed in a car accident. They also referred to his pain and resiliency amidst the death of his adult son, Beau, who succumbed to a brain tumor in 2015.
Prospective First Lady Jill Biden was perhaps his best witness in this regard. “Four days after Beau’s funeral, I watched Joe shave and put on his suit. I saw him steel himself in the mirror—take a breath—put his shoulders back—and walk out into a world empty of our son. He went back to work. That’s just who he is,” she said in her speech. “There are times when I couldn’t imagine how he did it—how he put one foot in front of the other and kept going. But I’ve always understood why he did it: For the daughter who convinces her mom to finally get a breast cancer screening and misses work to drive her to the clinic, for the community college student who has faced homelessness and survived abuse—but finds the grit to finish her degree and make a good life for her kids, for the little boy whose mom is serving as a marine in Iraq, who puts on a brave face in his video call, and doesn’t complain when the only thing he wants for his birthday is to be with her, for all those people Joe gives his personal phone number to, at rope lines and events—the ones he talks to for hours after dinner—helping them smile through their loss—letting them know that they aren’t alone. He does it for you.”
She concluded, “Joe’s purpose has always driven him forward. His strength of will is unstoppable. And his faith is unshakable—because it’s not in politicians or political parties—or even himself. It’s in the providence of God. His faith is in you—in us.”
Among the most unusual aspects of the convention – other than it being held remotely – was the number of high profiled Republicans who spoke on Biden’s behalf.
“I support Joe Biden because on Day One he will restore America’s leadership and our moral authority,” said Powell, who served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bush and Democratic President Bill Clinton. “He’ll be a president who knows America is strongest when, as he has said, ‘We lead both by the power of our example and the example of our power.’ He will restore America’s leadership in the world and restore the alliances we need to address the dangers that threaten our nation, from climate change to nuclear proliferation.”
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican and a former presidential candidate, weathered criticism from fellow Republicans for his open support of Biden.
“I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country. That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” Kasich said in his speech. “Yes, there are areas where Joe and I absolutely disagree. But that’s OK because that’s America. Because whatever our differences, we respect one another as human beings, each of us searching for justice and for purpose.”
A video was shown highlighting Biden’s friendship with the late Republican Sen. John McCain. It was narrated by McCain’s wife, Cindy, ending with his words to Biden, thanking him for his friendship: “My life and the lives of many have been enriched by it.”
Millions anticipated Biden’s remarks at the close of the DNC convention Thursday night. But, even more so, the race between him and Trump. The issues at hand in the Black community, including health care, criminal justice, police brutality and economic
justice will be foremost as America goes to the polls or mail in their ballots.