Colin Luther Powell was born on the 5th of April, 1937, in South Bronx, New York. His parents had emigrated from Jamaica. His father Luther Theophilus Powell worked as a shipping clerk, and his mother Maud Arlel was a seamstress. Colin Powell always talks warmly of his parents.
He studied in Morris High School, and then in the City College of New York where he got a Bachelor's Degree in Geology. As a student, he was quite average. While in City College, he joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). It was there that he found the perfect place for himself. He joined the Pershing Rifles drill team. In 1958, upon his graduation from City College, he was granted a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the army.
In 1962, he met and married Alma Vivian Johnson, while stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. They have three children: Michael, Linda, and Annamarie.
Colin Powell worked in the army for 35 years as a professional soldier. He eventually rose to the rank of General. From 1962 to 1963, the time of the Vietnam War, he served as an advisor, and from 1968 to 1969 (when he returned from Vietnam), he served as an executive officer, and then the assistant chief of staff of the operations with the rank of Major.
In 1971, he also got an MBA from George Washington University, while working in the army. In the 1980s, he became the senior military assistant to the Secretary of Defense. From 1987 to 1989, he became Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor. During this time, he also served as the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Army's Forces Command.
On 1st October, 1989, he took up his appointment as the 12th Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the highest position in the Defense Department. At the age of 52, he was the youngest and the first African-American to be on that post. He followed a policy of making military intervention as the last option in his entire defense related tactical decisions. All his characteristic methods came to be known as the 'Powell Doctrine'.
Life After the Army
When he retired in 1993, he began addressing large audiences and public gatherings. He also wrote an autobiography, titled 'My American Journey'. Colin Powell was already a hit with the masses. When he began campaigning for the Republican Party, rumors started that he was considering a political career. In 1996, he was even said to be a possible opponent for Bill Clinton. He served as the United States Secretary of State under George W. Bush, from 2001 to 2005.
After his retirement, though, he has remained quite active in the national political scenario. His opinions and his thoughts are quite sought-after, and he is often quite sharp with his criticism.