Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, dies at 84

powell
Photo credit Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

Gen. Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, died early Monday from complications of COVID-19, his family said. He was 84.

Powell was being treated at Walter Reed National Medical Center, according to his family, who said he was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” his family said in a statement.

In addition to serving as secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, Powell also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton from 1989 to 1993.

Powell was born in Harlem in 1937 to Jamaican immigrants and raised in the South Bronx, where he attended Morris High School.

After graduating from the City College of New York, he took an Army commission and served in Vietnam. He rose in the ranks, becoming a general, and was appointed the head of the National Security Council by President Ronald Reagan.

During the next administration, President George H.W. Bush made him chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Defense Department.

When President Bush appointed Powell as secretary of state, he became the highest ranking African American official in the history of the U.S.

President Joe Biden shared a statement on Powell's passing on Monday morning, saying that he and the first lady were deeply saddened by the loss of their dear friend, and a patriot of "unmatched honor and dignity."

"He believed in the promise of America because he he lived it. And he devoted so much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others," Biden said, going on to share his time working with Powell and his condolences to the Powell family for their profound loss.

"Jill and I are sending all our love and strength to Alma [Powell's wife], their children, Linda, Annemarie, and Michael, their grandchildren, and the entire Powell family. Our nation mourns with you."