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Watch: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks at Colin Powell funeral service


Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright hailed Colin Powell as a leader who “made pragmatism charismatic” during remarks at the military leader and diplomat’s funeral on Nov. 5 at the Washington National Cathedral.

“His effectiveness was magnified by his lack of interest in building up partisan debating points, or proving how macho he could be as a negotiator. Somehow through the strength of his personality he made pragmatism charismatic,” Albright said.

Powell died last month at the age of 84. He served Democratic and Republican presidents in times of both war and peace, and earned a reputation as a trustworthy and fair leader. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Powell rose to the rank of four-star general and in 1989 became the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that role he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.

He was the son of Jamaican immigrants and grew up in Hunts Point, a diverse neighborhood in the Bronx. His 35-year Army career began in the Reserve Officers Training Corps Program, or ROTC, at the City College of New York.

He became a platoon leader in Cold War Germany, then served twice in Vietnam. He rose quickly to become the country’s fourth Black four-star general and, by the end of the Reagan administration, the first Black national security adviser.

His reputation and legacy was forever stained, however, when he appeared in front of the United Nations and cited faulty evidence of weapons of mass destruction, as part of the justification of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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