Local and National Leaders React to the Death of Colin Powell

Rev. Al Sharpton
Rep. Marsha Blackburn
Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen Camper

Nashville, TN (TN Tribune) – Local and national leaders are reacting to the sudden death of Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st. Powell suddenly on Monday due to complications from COVID-19. He was 84.

Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton is calling for a street in Brooklyn, New York, named after Confederate army leader Robert. E. Lee to be renamed in honor of the late United States General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Rev. Sharpton and National Action Network (NAN) have previously condemned the street, General Lee Avenue, which runs through the center of Fort Hamilton, New York City’s only US military base. Robert E. Lee is infamously known for leading the Confederate troops during the Civil War.

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn released the following statement.

“Chuck and I are saddened to hear of former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s passing. General Powell was a soldier’s soldier, highly respected by all who wore the uniform. We are grateful for his years of service to our country, and we join Tennesseans in extending our condolences and prayers to Gen. Powell’s family,” Senator Blackburn said.

Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen Camper issued a statement recalling how Powell broke barriers.

“I am very saddened to hear about the passing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He not only broke barriers by being named the first African-American Secretary of State in our nation’s history, but he was also an inspiration to many soldiers as an Army officer and in his role as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Gen. Powell visited my Military Intelligence unit in Europe shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and before the first Gulf War. In the Intelligence field, we were encountering an entirely new world and Gen. Powell’s visit was encouraging and uplifting to the soldiers.

He rose to the top of the Army and of our government with hard work and dedication to the mission, with the mission being to improve our military and our country. He created an example for his soldiers and Americans as a whole. My prayers are with his family. Rest easy, sir.”

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released the following statement from Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, on the passing of former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell:

“I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Colin Powell. General Powell had a reputation for generating bipartisan support, being a trusted military adviser, and putting country over party. General Powell was a true leader and a man of many firsts—the first Black U.S. Secretary of State and the youngest officer appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

We will remember General Powell’s commitment to public service and Black communities. General Powell was a friend of the Joint Center and participated in various events. He always remembered where he came from and tried to ensure that opportunities would remain open to others—as evidenced by his support of affirmative action and other programs designed to facilitate economic mobility and the full participation of Americans from all backgrounds. His memory will live on as a testament to the importance of working across party lines for Black communities. Our thoughts and prayers go out to General Powell’s entire family, including his wife Alma Powell and son Michael K. Powell, a former FCC Chair, who served as the initial chair of the Joint Center’s National Advisory Committee of its Media and Technology Institute.”

Watch General Powell’s 1988 remarks to the Joint Center as our featured speaker while he served as National Security Advisor in the Reagan White House.

CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Hill, and several other news outlets remembered General Powell’s legacy. President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, and many others also made statements on his passing.