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US army general. Born Colin Luther Powell on April 5, 1937 in New York City. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell was raised in the South Bronx and graduated from the City College of New York. A member of ROTC, he took an army commission after graduation and later served in Vietnam.

Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, holding a series of senior commands and rising to the rank of 4-star General before being appointed Head of the National Security Council by President Reagan in 1987. Two years later, he took over the Army Forces Command, and was made Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President Bush. The post is the the highest military position in the Department of Defense and Powell is the first African-American officer to receive this distinction. He oversaw 28 crises, including Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

In 2000, President George W. Bush appointed Powell Secretary of State, and he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. During his tenure, Powell came under fire for his role in building the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His chief role before and after the invasion was to garner international support for a multi-national coalition. In 2004, after acknowledging that it was unlikely that Iraq possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, Powell announced his resignation as Secretary of State. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was his successor.

Since his retirement, Powell has remained vocal on political topics, openly criticizing the Bush Administration on a number of issues. In 2006, he was a speaker at a special series called Get Motivated, along with former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani. Powell also joined Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, as a "strategic limited partner."

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