General Colin Powell was the first African-American to serve as U.S. Secretary of State.

Why you should listen

Four-star General Colin Powell was the first African-American U.S. Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. Prior to his service Powell was also the first African-American to serve as Chairman to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an office he held from 1989 to 1993. But how did young Powell, a C student from the Bronx and a child of Jamaican immigrants, reach the highest military position in the Department of Defense?

While Powell was attending university at City College of New York, he found his calling in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). He graduated to become an Army second lieutenant and later went on to serve two tours in the Vietnam War. In 1989 under President George H. W. Bush, Powell was made a full general, before being named 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Powell is the Founding Chairman of America's Promise Alliance, an organization which supports children through volunteer networks.

Colin Powell’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Colin Powell


5 talks from and about military generals

January 23, 2013

[ted id=1649]According to Colin Powell, the retired four-star general and former United States Secretary of State, learning to give a salute can be life changing. At TED, many have shared what they believe to be missing from our current education system — Ken Robinson says its space for kids to flex their creative muscles while […]

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