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Caryn E. Neumann

U.S. Army four-star general, national security adviser, and secretary of state. Colin Luther Powell was born in Harlem, New York, the second child of Luther Powell, a foreman in a women's clothing factory, and Maud Powell, a worker in the garment industry. Both parents were Jamaican-born immigrants. The family moved to the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx in 1941. Powell enrolled at the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1954 but soon discovered that he preferred the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), which he joined in 1955, to any other coursework. He liked the comradeship and sense of belonging.

Upon graduating from CCNY in 1958 Powell was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U S Army He subsequently attended Ranger School at Fort Benning Georgia and was assigned to the Third Armored Division in Gelnhausen West Germany forty miles from the East ...

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Steven J. Niven and John McDermott

secretary of state, national security adviser, educator, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the only child of John Wesley Rice Jr., an educator and minister, and Angelena Ray, a teacher. Her mother, an accomplished pianist, named her after the Italian musical direction con dolcezza, meaning to play “with sweetness.” The Rices viewed the restrictions of Jim Crow Alabama as obstacles for their daughter to overcome. She did so effortlessly, taking early lessons in ballet, French, flute, and piano. Extra tutoring from her father enabled her to skip the first and seventh grades.

Though she enjoyed a comfortable, if by no means wealthy, childhood, Rice was not immune to the harsh realities of Birmingham under Bull Connor, the city's notoriously racist commissioner of public safety. Like everyone else in the city, she attended segregated schools, and one of her classmates was killed in the 1963 ...