Jamaican-American four-star general Colin Powell, who died last Monday of complications relating to Covid-19 at the age of 84, was one of America’s most well-known public figures. Powell was born on April 5 1937 to working-class Jamaican immigrants who moved to New York in search of opportunities. He studied geology at City College, and found his passion in the college’s Reserves Officers Training Corps through which he joined a recently desegregated US army. Powell married Alma Johnson in 1962, and they raised a son and two daughters. 

He served two stints in Vietnam, in 1962 and 1968. This experience scarred him and he developed a lifelong aversion to what he regarded as trigger-happy, deceitful politicians playing around with the lives of soldiers without a clear political strategy or public support. But Powell was also accused, as head of an investigation, of a cover-up of the US military’s My Lai massacre in 1968...

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