Powell, Loved And Reviled, Gets Mixed Reaction In Black Community

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 20th October, 2021) Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell's death this week has drawn mixed assessments on his legacy - from being called a war criminal to a man of great integrity - by members of the Black community who spoke to Sputnik.

Powell died on Monday at the age of 84 from complications of COVID-19. He had been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body's ability to fight infections and to respond well to vaccines.

"I have been watching these brainwashed, bougie Negroes crying crocodile tears because Colin Powell is dead. They have said of my criticisms of him that it's inappropriate on this day," Washington, DC activist Kymone Freeman told Sputnik. "There's a lot of blood on his hands. I consider him to be a war criminal."

Powell has been roundly criticized for presenting as established fact to the UN that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ahead of the 2003 invasion. Freeman said by doing this Powell gave then-President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney a pretext to invade. As the participant and architect of several US invasions, Powell cannot escape culpability, he said.

In addition, Freeman said Powell left behind a sordid and troubling legacy involving the killing of untold numbers of innocent civilians in Vietnam, Panama and Grenada, lives needlessly lost on the altar of greed, empire and hegemony.

"He killed a bunch of (people) in Vietnam and Panama. He lied to enable war criminals Bush and Cheney to rob Iraq of oil and kill 1 million people," Freeman said. "But people support him and people like him because they want to be on a winning team or have the hope of one day obtaining the American dream, even though the United States is a numbers racket with people who stole and continue to steal resources from Black people."

Attorney, writer and political commentator Alton Drew, however, has the polar opposite view of Powell and his legacy.

"Let's face it. He was a believer and a patriot but he had integrity and a solid background. He's probably the last of his kind," Drew told Sputnik. "I have friends who were saddened by his passing. That's the type of guy he was. He was good at what he did. He was that good in the matrix in which he operated, and in this sphere, he checked off all the boxes. He was a soldier, fought in the war, got wounded and had cred."

Powell, the first Black person to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, occupied a unique but usable position, Drew said.

"One of his staffers said yesterday that he was able to speak his mind, which I believe he did. He never came off as a politician and he was very popular," said Drew. "In 1996, he walked away from the (Republican presidential) nomination. His wife was concerned that they might kill him but being an old soldier, he probably wasn't worried. He probably thought that it's one thing to be an assistant to the president and something else completely to being the commander-in-chief."

Drew, whose roots spring from St. Kitts and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean, said Powell was seen as a man of integrity.

"He was a statist but stood in a different space. He was still one of America's most popular politicians," he said. "I had respect for him. He was a fellow Caribbean person and a smart guy. I resonated with the Caribbean connection because his parents were double immigrants, as were my great aunt and my parents."

Drew, unlike Freeman and others, would not label Powell a war criminal, saying the term is "overused and overplayed."

Drew said people, especially Blacks, could learn from Powell's actions.

"The most powerful thing he did was when he decided to walk away from the nomination," he said. "He was saying, 'I'm not going to participate as long as it's not politically expedient to me, my brand, my system and my values.' Black people should consider following that course and not participate in this system if it doesn't benefit them. We should not be afraid to create something different or be afraid to be us."