'He always put his country first.' Local leaders react to the death of Colin Powell

Colin Powell
Posted at 10:52 AM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-18 10:52:48-04

(WXYZ) — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell died Monday from complications of COVID-19, his family said in a statement. He was 84.

Related: Colin Powell, former US secretary of state, dies of COVID-19

Many leaders from Michigan are reacting to his death. Some of the statements are below.

Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony

"Today we mourn the loss of one of the nation’s greatest soldiers and ultimately a grand statesman, General Colin Powell. From the streets of Harlem to the halls of the Pentagon, he was America’s first Black National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State. He will long be remembered for his steadfastness on the battlefield and his dedication to democracy on the fields throughout our land. He was often referred to as the “reluctant warrior” because he didn’t believe military intervention should be the first solution to an international crisis. General Powell was the first keynote speaker that I had the privilege to host as President of the Detroit Branch NAACP Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner in May of 1993. He was a gentleman while at the same time a soldier dedicated to the defense of this nation.

He came into Detroit knowing a great deal about the Detroit Branch NAACP and its new president as he said, 'from East Grand Boulevard to East Africa.' He was not afraid to speak truth to power and to admit when he had made a mistake. He regretted in his own words, declaring that there were 'weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,' at the infamous speech before the United Nations. He did not succumb to the right-wing extremism of today’s Republican Party. He declared years ago that America should embrace immigrants, diversity, and cease and desist from the division and discrimination. He believed that kind of attitude and philosophy was unbecoming of a nation that many look to as the arsenal of democracy.

Our prayers go out to his family and friends. General Powell is gone in the physical sense, but his selflessness and wisdom will continue to live on in the spirit of those whom he leaves behind. In his own words, 'if you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception; it is a prevailing attitude.' Thank you, General Colin Powell, for achieving excellence and always maintaining a prevailing attitude for justice, equity, and opportunity."

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy

"This nation has lost a giant, a true patriot, and an icon. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is the epitome of a life well-lived. On a personal note, my father, Clifford Worthy, a retired Army colonel attended the Command and General Staff College with Colin Powell. This was a school not only for American officers but for officers all over the world. My dad recalls that General Powell graduated second in this most prestigious class. His stellar military and public service career is one for the ages. My condolences go out to his family. Rest in Peace, Soldier, Rest in Peace."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

“Colin Powell was a statesman who served his country in uniform and at the highest levels of government for decades. As a soldier, he was deployed in the Vietnam War and went on to hold various national security and diplomacy roles under four presidents: Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. Secretary Powell embodied values we all strive to live by: fidelity, independence, and humility. My thoughts are with his family and all those who looked up to him as a soldier, a leader, and an American.”

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist

“As a soldier, cabinet secretary, and public servant, Secretary Powell led a lifetime of distinguished service to his country. He was our first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. For so many, he was a symbol of the heights to which anyone can rise in America. In the example of his leadership and devotion to public service, he will continue to inspire future generations.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Colin Powell, who broke barriers over and over again during a lifetime of public service. He was a man of strong principles and always put his country first. My prayers are with his family and friends.”

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser

“We lost a great American today, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Not only did he work to shape our nation's foreign policy during several Republican administrations, but he bravely served his country in the military to the benefit of all Americans. On a personal note, he swore me in when I became the U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia. Over the course of my time in that position, I witnessed firsthand Secretary Powell's immense devotion to our nation and his commitment to public service as well has his incredible leadership of the State Department. I have nothing but respect and admiration for his decades-long dedication to our country. He will be immensely missed. I offer my prayers and condolences to his family during this difficult time."

Rep. Debbie Dingell

“Colin Powell was a statesman who loved this country fiercely. He was a trailblazer – serving this country with love and pride. He believed that public service was the most important job in the world, and he did it right. He treated every person with dignity and respect. His leadership – full of honesty and listening – inspired generations.

“Colin and his wife Alma have been close friends for over 40 years. I know he would have a message today: get your vaccines. He was vaccinated and still passed away from COVID complications.

“Until his dying day, he opposed the fear and hatred dividing this country. He believed in the American Promise and left that as his legacy. He stood on principle and believed in the good of life – he was one of the most decent men I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. When I would be down, he would tell me to stand tall and fight with everything I have. Colin always had the right words to say, and I am heartbroken about his passing. Sending all of my love to Alma and the Powell family this morning and in the difficult times ahead.”