First African American Secretary of State Resigns

Today, Colin Powell, former Howard University trustee, resigns as the first African American appointed to the position of Secretary of State.  Powell has also served as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense, under former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton.

Prior to being named as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell served as the Commander in Chief, Forces Command, headquartered at Fort McPherson, Georgia.  He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and as battalion commander in Korea.  He later commanded the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and V Corps, United States Army, Europe.

Powell is the among at least five other Cabinet officials resigning from the re-elected Bush administration including Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans.  Administration officials said the departures would be staggered.

The recent resignations cause many to further doubt whether Bush will have the continuity that seems necessary to successfully introduce his new legislative agenda.

Colin Powell was born in the South Bronx on April 5, 1937 to Jamaican immigrants. While completing undergraduate course work at City College of New York (CCNY), he participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation. He went on to receive a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University, in the nation’s capitol.

General Powell has been the recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart amongst his many honors. His civilian awards include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and an honorary knighthood (Knight Commander of the Bath) from the Queen of England. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1993.