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Politics Black immigrant communities debate the complex legacy of Colin Powell with compliments and criticism

19:20  27 october  2021
19:20  27 october  2021 Source:   insider.com

Colin Powell dead at 84 from COVID-19 complications

  Colin Powell dead at 84 from COVID-19 complications Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the first Black American to serve in the post, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19, his family announced in a statement.The family said the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been fully vaccinated and was receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Medical Center. Powell reportedly had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer. "General Colin L.The family said the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been fully vaccinated and was receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Medical Center. Powell reportedly had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer.

Colin Powell arrives to pay his respects at the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, December 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images © Drew Angerer/Getty Images Colin Powell arrives to pay his respects at the casket of the late former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, December 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Colin Powell became the highest ranking Black and Caribbean-American official in Washington.
  • Powell had many accolades throughout his military career but also many miscues in Washington.
  • Caribbean-American public figures and communities highlighted Powell's complex legacy online.

Former US Secretary Colin Powell's complicated and complex legacy throughout his nearly five decade career is being remembered, critiqued and commemorated around the world.

'Country before self ... before all else': US presidents remember Colin Powell as American hero

  'Country before self ... before all else': US presidents remember Colin Powell as American hero President Joe Biden said former secretary of state Colin Powell "embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat."Powell, the nation's first Black secretary of state, died of complications from COVID-19, his family said.

Powell, born and raised in the South Bronx, New York, died at Walter Reed National Military Hospital last week at the age of 84 from complications of COVID-19.

The first Black Secretary of State had been battling a multi-year bout with myeloma, a type of blood cancer and Parkinson's disease.

As Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, Powell became the highest ranking Black official in Washington before the election of Democrat President Barack Obama.

Powell was a lifelong Republican who left the party after the attempted insurrection of January 6.

And as the son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell was the highest ranking Caribbean-American official before the election of Vice President Kamala Harris - whose father hails from the same island.

Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell

  Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell It's Monday, welcome to Overnight Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's unexpected death was greeted by an outpouring of grief from across the political spectrum, as Democrats and Republicans alike lauded the four-star general as a giant of public service and an African- American hero.We'll share the reactions from across the nation and globe, how the White House has responded, and Powell's long and distinguished legacy.For The Hill, I'm Ellen Mitchell.

This week, in commemoration of Powell as a trailblazer, Black-immigrant communities gave balanced accounts of honoring Powell's accomplishments but also recognizing his record in some of the most powerful positions in the US government.

Prominent Caribbean-American leaders and public figures shared their reflections

Over the years Powell has stayed connected to his Jamaican roots, returning to the Caribbean nation at the request of then Prime Minister Michael Manley after the Gulf War in 1992.

"Keep believing in yourself; keep believing in the strength of your society and your culture," Powell said at Jamaica's 50th Independence gala. "Keep being proud of your heritage but recognize that there are problems that we all have to deal with."

Jamaican officials also offered condolences to the United States and Powell family. In a statement, Prime Minister Andrew Holness celebrated the former secretary, noting "General Powell never forgot his roots and family lineage in Jamaica."

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The residential plaza where the US Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, is housed is named in his honor.

Vice President Kamala Harris, whose father was also a Jamaican immigrant before moving back to the country, expressed her condolences of the passing of Powell. Saying in part "he dedicated his life to defending our nation and always showed the world the best of who we are."

Last week, President Joe Biden ordered the flags at the White House be lowered to half staff until October 22nd. Other state Governors also ordered the flags be lowered to half staff last week to honor Powell.

Public figures and communities online noted Powell's legacy can be both celebrated and critiqued

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial that he described as one that could contain anthrax, during his presentation on [Iraq] to the U.N. Security Council, in New York February 5, 2003. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine/ REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine © REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial that he described as one that could contain anthrax, during his presentation on [Iraq] to the U.N. Security Council, in New York February 5, 2003. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine/ REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine In a statement on Twitter, Brooklyn, US Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, and fellow Jamaican-American extended her "deepest condolences to the Powell Family," and highlighted when President Obama sent her along with Powell to celebrate Jamaica's 50th Independence Anniversary.

"While we both represent two different political parties and I've questioned his role with regard to the Iraq War, as also he ultimately did, he was a principled statesman who loved his country."

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Some throughout Caribbean-American communities questioned what Powell's job institutionally has done to the region and diaspora.

"Good for him and his rise to prominence as a Black man," Kris Ayala Strachan, a Bahamian-American, tweeted. "But he was an integral part of why we struggled & struggle today against white supremacy and US imperialism in the Caribbean & globally."

And Washington Post Columnist Karen Attiah, a Ghanaian and Nigerian-American journalist, shared her conflicted thoughts about Powell in a Twitter thread, noting that for many Black families -- especially immigrant and first generation ones -- he represented "excellence in public service."

Institutionally, however, Attiah adds that Powell's representation in Black in communities didn't mean much for Iraqi people. Many were on the receiving end of a devastating US occupation and foreign policy, and still face the consequences today.

"I remember as a 16 year old, being aghast that Colin Powell was in front of the UN making the case for WMD's [weapons of mass destruction] in Iraq. I argued in my debate class that there wasn't enough evidence and the U.S. shouldn't invade unilaterally.

I remember thinking 'why is he doing this??'"

Colin Powell had mixed legacy among some African Americans

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MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid, a Guyanese-American, argued that Powell's legacy can be both celebrated and criticized - especially among Black first generation Americans.

On Twitter she called out the "tough moments around wars" while reflecting that Powell's "was a "decent man and a great American we could all be proud of."

"I know my Caribbean-American [family] certainly are. Wishing peace to his soul & family," she said, calling his death "so shocking and heartbreaking."

Black immigrant communities wrestle with "a symbol of achievement"

Over the last week, Black immigrant communities have shown a sense of pride in commemorating Powell but also acknowledged the harm Powell was directly or indirectly responsible for.

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Attiah,in her final tweet of her Twitter thread argued that Powell can "stand for a symbol of achievement, and integrity," while offering an opportunity to reflect on America's capacity for cruelty and reckless aggression abroad --- and how we rarely hold our leaders accountable for it."

Powell is survived by his wife Alma, three children and two grandchildren.

Read the original article on Insider

President Biden, former presidents and colleagues to honor Colin Powell at funeral Friday .
From President Joe Biden to military leaders, many dignitaries will be on hand today in Washington to honor Colin Powell at his funeral service.Powell's funeral will begin at noon at Washington National Cathedral. Powell, the nation's first Black secretary of state, widely revered by Republicans and Democrats alike, died Oct. 18 of complications from COVID-19.

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