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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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Lorna S. Jaffe

Born 5 April 1937 in the Harlem section of New York City and raised in the South Bronx, Colin L. Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, rose to become the first African American chairman of the JCS. After his 1958 graduation from City College, New York, where he had been a member of the ROTC, Powell received a commission in the regular army.

As a young officer in the recently integrated army, he had opportunities for leadership not then generally available to blacks in segregated civilian society. He received accelerated promotions to major and colonel, and in 1979 became at forty‐two the youngest general then in the army.

A turning point in Powell's career was his 1972 selection as a White House Fellow Assigned to the Office of Management and Budget he learned firsthand the workings of the federal bureaucracy and met individuals who later played key roles in ...

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Paul S. Boyer and Anthony H. Cordesman

Born in Harlem, New York City, to immigrants from Jamaica, Powell joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps while enrolled at the City College of New York. He received a U.S. Army commission as a second lieutenant upon graduating in 1958. He served in Vietnam in 1962–1963 and again in 1968–1969, when he was injured in a helicopter crash.

Receiving an M.B.A. from George Washington University in 1971, Powell possessed the necessary combat and educational background to profit by efforts to bring African Americans into leading military positions. In 1972–1973, he was a White House fellow in the Office of Management and Budget, directed by Caspar Weinberger.

After commanding a battalion in South Korea, attending the National War College, and serving in the Department of Defense, Powell in 1983 became military assistant to Weinberger, President Ronald Reagan s first secretary of defense Powell s policy ...

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Steven J. Niven

U.S. Army general and secretary of state, was born in Harlem in New York City to the Jamaican immigrants Luther Powell, a shipping clerk, and Maud Ariel McKoy a seamstress both of whom worked in New York City s garment district When he was six years old Powell moved with his family to Hunts Point an ethnically diverse neighborhood in the South Bronx Powell s autobiography portrays Hunts Point as a community of stable families and a certain rough hewn racial tolerance but it does not ignore the neighborhood s upsurge in drug and gang related crime particularly after World War II The Powells escaped the crumbling South Bronx tenements in the mid 1950s however a testament to his parents unstinting work ethic and shrewd housekeeping But luck also played a part Luther Powell a regular numbers player placed a twenty five dollar bet on a number ...

Article

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 ...