Colin Powell, the first African-American secretary of state of the United States, has died.
Powell, 84, died of Covid-19 problems, according to his family on Facebook.
“General Colin L. Powell, former US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died this morning due to complications with Covid 19,” the Powell family said on Facebook, adding that he was fully vaccinated.
They stated, “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great American.”
Powell was a brilliant and trailblazing professional soldier whose career spanned combat action in Vietnam to being Ronald Reagan’s first Black national security adviser and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.
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, 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.
Powell would later become disillusioned with the Republican Party’s rightward drift and utilize his political clout to help Democrats win the White House, most notably Barack Obama, the first Black president, whom Powell endorsed in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign.
Due to Powell’s tremendous popular appeal and prominence as one of the most prominent and successful Black Americans in public life, the statement was considered as a huge boost for Obama’s candidacy.
Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, and three children, whom he married in 1962.
“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.”
It is not clear if Powell had received a booster dose of the vaccine. 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. (CNN)