Colin Powell, military leader and the first Black US Secretary of State, has died from COVID-19 complications. Powell’s family confirmed the death on Facebook, CNN notes.

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“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 family wrote.

The family noted he was fully vaccinated and he was 84. CNN states there is uncertainty if he had a booster vaccine, but notes the vaccination is still highly effective in preventing severe disease and death. 7,000 breakthrough cases have occurred through Oct. 12, there have been 187 million people fully vaccinated in the US.

Born in Harlem, New York on April 5, 1937, Colin Luther Powell grew up in the South Bronx and he attended the City College of New York. At that college, he enrolled in ROTC and was a top-ranked cadet colonel. He would enter the US Army in 1958.


In his career, Powell assisted in shaping foreign policy through numerous administrations. Powell participated in combat duty in Vietnam and became the first Black national security adviser at the conclusion of the Ronald Reagan presidency. Under George H.W. Bush, Powell was the first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell would go on to be Secretary of State under George W. Bush.

Later in Powell’s career, his alignment with the Republican Party would deteriorate due to rightward policies, leading him to assist in the elections of Democratic candidates such as President Barack Obama.

George W. Bush released a statement in reaction to Powell’s death:

“Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell. He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam. Many Presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was National Security Adviser under President Reagan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under my father and President Clinton, and Secretary of State during my Administration. He 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. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”

– George W. Bush

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, and three children.