Opinion

Colin Powell lived a life worth observing

Secretary of State Colin Powell greets US Ambassador to Iraq (IRQ) Paul Bremer. (Department of Defense photo).
Secretary of State Colin Powell greets US Ambassador to Iraq (IRQ) Paul Bremer. (Department of Defense photo).
Former Joint Chiefs Chairman and Secretary of State, Colin Powell has died. News of General Powell’s untimely passing shook the entire world. Powell was seen as one of the last true patriots living in this nation. Countless world leaders, corporate executives, and community activists rushed to social media to share a small tribute of what Colin Powell’s life meant to them.
 
“Colin was a man of integrity. He was deeply principled, shaped by bedrock beliefs that guided him throughout his life.” – Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state.
 
Personally, I learned of Powell’s death moments from arising out of bed as I scanned Twitter for current news. Tucked away discreetly in a friend’s story feed flashed an image of Colin Powell and some remarks about his death that I no longer recall. I laid back down and cried.
 
Our paths crossed briefly almost 20 years ago when I attended a leadership conference featuring the first Black secretary of state. I had long wanted to meet Powell in person because he inspired me to be tough, conservative, and relentless.
 
I’ve always shouted proudly “I’m a Colin Powell Republican.” 
 
Powell delivered an electrifying speech that held the entire arena’s focus for over an hour. He focused on sharing the principles necessary to become an effective leader. I hung on every word and wrote copious notes that I’d study for years to come. Afterward standing next to the general for only moments, he was tall and inspiring with a certain energy radiating from his body, but he was not intimidating.
 
Powell was a respected diplomat and military genius with a deep compassionate love for America. Even if you didn’t agree politically with Powell, no one could deny his integrity. He served this country in the highest ranks during times when the country had no love for him.
 
There are a few historical leaders that cause you to wonder how America may be today had they been given different pathways.

I wonder what the civil rights movement might have resembled had Abraham Lincoln lived during his second term. I dream about Black communities and how they may look had Malcolm X and MLK been given more time with us. I’ll forever be curious what America could have become if Powell would have given us the opportunity to elect him president.
 
Powell has many achievements, too many to list here, but the hallmark of Powell’s life is that it symbolizes what is truly possible in America. Powell had modest beginnings in the South Bronx, but through sheer talent worked to become one of the most famous military officers in the world.
 
Powell lived an impressive life filled with breaking down barriers and making history. Because of his convictions, his name will live forever and he achieved eternal life through real-life sacrifices. I challenge you to stand back and take a deep look at your own life.

Are you living a life that will be remembered? What will they write about you after it’s over?
 
Always remember people are observing you at all times. Make sure you’re living a life worth watching.

Algenon Cash is the founding director of Black Empowerment Network, a program dedicated to enlightening, educating, and empowering Black people. Reach him at [email protected].