General Colin Powell led a life of extraordinary service—as a pathbreaking leader and statesman and a generous mentor and friend. 

This son of Harlem and I shared a love for the people and neighborhood that inspired us both and an appreciation of the public schools and public institutions that made our American journeys possible. We forged a bond in and through our community—and during the many years since, General Powell offered freely his advice and counsel.

Longtime friends, General Colin Powell attended Darren Walker’s 60th birthday celebration.

I’ve long admired how General Powell worked to solve problems, striving to put ideals and integrity before ideology; patriotism before partisanship. He personified the values instilled by his Jamaican-immigrant parents: hard work, humility, and honor. He embodied dignity and grace.  

While General Powell held some of the most powerful positions and lauded titles in the United States, he knew his most important calling was to serve others. As the founding chairman of America’s Promise Alliance, he—characteristically—brought together people from across the aisle and the country to lift up the nation’s children and communities. And I was proud to serve alongside him at the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, where he married his passions for diplomacy and the arts to connect people and cultures.  

My heart goes out to Alma; their children Linda, Michael, and Anne; their grandchildren; and the extended Powell family. To paraphrase another son of Harlem, I loved my friend.