Powell Embraced His Caribbean Roots Throughout Career, Kept Rum in Cabinet, Jamaican Envoy Says
01:38 GMT 19.10.2021 (Updated: 13:25 GMT 06.08.2022)
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The late Colin Powell, who was the first Black man to serve as Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was always aligned to his Caribbean roots and upbringing regardless of how much he achieved throughout his career in public service, Jamaican Ambassador to the United Nations Curtis Ward told Sputnik.
Powell died on Monday at the age of 84 from complications of COVID-19. He had been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body's ability to fight infections and to respond well to vaccines.
"He claimed us," Ward said on Monday. "He spoke about visiting rum bars in Jamaica, he played Caribbean music in his office and had Jamaican rum in his cabinet. He is a man who achieved so much in life but was very very aligned to his Caribbean roots and upbringing. He said his parents came to the US in a banana boat."
Powell, during his time as the head of the US armed forces, led the American military to its overwhelming victory in the 1991 first Gulf war against Iraq.
Ward said Powell, through the conversations he shared with the Jamaican ambassador, recognized the significance his career as a Black man in US government had on society.
Ward remembered the shockwaves Powell sent across America when he supported then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who would go on to be the first Black president of the United States.
Moreover, Ward said Powell's wife feared her husband would be killed if had decided to run for president as a Republican candidate in the 1990s.
Aside from personal matters, Ward highlighted two crucial moments in Powell's career: the Aristide situation and his presentation before the UN Security Council about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
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In regards to Iraq, Ward highlighted the conflicting duty Powell had to undertake at the UN Security Council when he presented the United States' plans for invading Iraq because of alleged weapons of mass destruction.
"I always interpret that moment as him by every breath he took being a military man," Ward said. "He actually went to CIA headquarters because he had doubts. He insisted that [CIA Director] George Tenet sit behind him. He had his doubts and he was diligent in trying to find out the truth... Colin Powell was in opposition to invading Iraq. Powell told the president if you go in there, you own it."
Powell, Ward concluded, was an icon in American history, a great American, and a great man.