Leaders, students remember Colin Powell as ‘ultimate leader’ and 'national treasure'
Retired four-star Gen. Colin Powell died due to complication from COVID-19, his family announced Monday.
Powell broke several barriers, including becoming the first Black man to be secretary of state.
NCAAP Long Island Regional Director Tracey Edwards says Powell was a person of integrity who stood for his convictions
“He started from a humble beginning, he stayed humble, he gave back in ways that people don’t even know about,” Edwards says. “He was the ultimate leader.”
Before he served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, Powell grew up in the Bronx as the son of Jamaican immigrants.
He later went on to service in the U.S. Army and became the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Edwards says Powell showed Black people what they could be before Barack Obama became president.
“He was in the room making those decisions, he was in the room when people would ask for his advice,” Edwards says. “He, to me, started this journey for many, many people who were going into the military, who were going into politics, because of his leadership.
Students enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Westbury High School watched a video about Powell’s life.
“It really gave me the qualities to become a great leader,” said 11th grade student Berlinda Pierre Louis.
Powell was criticized for his claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before entering the war in 2003. He later acknowledged he was wrong.
Hofstra Executive Dean for Public Policy Meena Bose says despite that decision, he represented a dedication to public service in the military and afterward.
Former Rep. Peter King worked with Powell for years in Washington and says he was a national treasure.
“He was dedicated, he was hard working, he was so respected, he was probably one of the few cabinet officials that would come to Capitol Hill and nobody, Republican or Democrat, would take him on,” King says. “They would ask him questions, but no one ever had the nerve to take a cheap shot at Colin Powell because he was that respected and held in high esteem.”