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'Someone to be reckoned with' Remembering Colin Powell's impact on Tennessee

Colin Powell
Posted at 1:03 PM, Oct 18, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Local leaders and institutions are weighing in on Colin Powell’s legacy following his death from COVID-19 complications and a fight with blood cancer.

Powell’s family said in a statement:

"General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19. He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment. We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American. The Powell Family."

Belmont Law School Dean Alberto Gonzales was the 80th Attorney General of the United States when Powell was serving under President George Bush. "An incredibly good man, dedicated family man, and just a great public servant," Gonzales said.

Gonzales noted that Powell put the military and his soldiers first. "His opinions were very well respected based on his military experience, he was someone whose opinions were always very thoughtful and measured, and I think it was a very good counterweight," Gonzales said. "Professionally what I learned was General Powell was someone to be reckoned with in these very complicated and important issues."

Powell played an instrumental role in shaping foreign policy. "I think when I look back at General Powell, Secretary Powell, he lived a life that was energetic, he contributed to generations of individuals, and I think it was a life well lived," Gonzales said.

In a NewsChannel 5 videotape from 1992, Powell spoke to graduates at Fisk University following the LA riots. "Violence by the police, or by the mobs, is not the answer. Our hearts hurt because of that violence," he said.

In addition, Tennessee State University also issued a statement: "Tennessee State University joins the country in mourning four-star General Colin Powell. General Powell, a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier, was the first Black US secretary of state. Powell was also the first Black national security adviser, and the first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But most of all, he was a great public servant. At TSU, our motto is Think. Work. Serve. Colin Powell epitomized that, to the fullest. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family."

The director of The Vanderbilt Project on Unity & Democracy calls Powell a hero. Gray Sasser said, "He was willing to speak truth.”

Politics aside, he said Powell served country above self. "If you look at this last election, I think he was willing to go against his party and take a stand," Sasser said. "I think what General Powell exemplified is our true loyalty is not to a man, not to a party, but it’s to the constitution, it’s to the idea of democracy."