Gen. Colin Powell, who made history as the first Black secretary of state, died from COVID-19 complications at Walter Reed Medical Center.
Powell served during the presidency of George W. Bush and led the first Gulf War as chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He was also the first Black person to hold the latter title.
Powell’s family issued a brief statement that he was fully vaccinated and was waiting to receive his booster shot at the time of his death.
In recent years, he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that is known to suppress the immune system. In 2003, he fought prostate cancer and also had Parkinson’s disease. Those diseases are known to make a patient more susceptible to severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Powell’s family announced his death and thanked Walter Reed Medical Center on social media for their treatment of him while he was ill.
“We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment,” Powell’s family said.
Powell’s history and legacy are that of a moderate Republican.
Powell pushed back when many of his party mates were jumping on the Tea Party rhetoric and conspiracies over the Obama administration and the former president himself being Muslim.
“Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president?” Powell said.
His willingness to break with the foolishness of his party placed him on their red list, but he continued to speak out against their propaganda.
In a statement, President Biden lauded Powell for his ideals.
“[Powell] believed in the promise of America because he lived it. And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.”
Powell was 84.