Gen. Colin Powell grew up in Harlem, the son of Jamaican immigrants, and was raised in the South Bronx.
But when Powell, a former secretary of state state and chairman of the joint chiefs — who died Monday from complications of COVID-19 as he battled multiple myeloma, a blood cancer — wanted to break news, he often traveled to Long Island.
In 1999, the four-star Army general visited Woodbury to launch the now-dormant Long Island Works Coalition to help bridge the communication and employment gap between the business community and academia.
In October 2016, Powell, speaking to a crowd of more than 1,000 at a luncheon hosted by the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, announced that he was endorsing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over then-candidate Donald Trump for president, citing her experience, intelligence and stamina.
And the following year, Powell, serving as the keynote speaker at Long Island University's inaugural Global Institute event in Brookville, called then-President Trump's proposed State Department budget cuts "ridiculous" and suggested they could hamper efforts to promote diplomacy.
"We had the extraordinary opportunity of welcoming General Colin Powell four times to the Long Island Association in his distinguished career," said Matthew Cohen, president and chief executive of the group. "We learned about his devotion to this country and his experiences as secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was not only brilliant but very warm and engaging, and well received by Long Island’s business community."
Powell's most high-profile visit to the region came less than two weeks before the 2016 election, when he endorsed Clinton, whom he had been privately critical of in hacked personal emails, calling her "smart" and capable."
The general said Trump was "not qualified" for the role of commander in chief and had sold Americans a "bill of goods" he could not deliver.
"He has insulted America in one way almost every day," said Powell, who served as secretary of state under Republican President George W. Bush. "He has insulted Latino Americans. He has insulted African Americans. He has insulted women. He has insulted his own party. He has insulted our allies around the world one by one by one. He has insulted veterans."
On Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul directed flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of Powell, noting that he "blazed a path forward for others to follow throughout his decades of service to the United States."
Meanwhile, Long Island's congressional delegation mourned Powell's passing.
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) called him "a man of principle who led a life of service and leadership, yet never forgot where he came from." Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said the country "will forever be grateful for Secretary Powell’s lifetime of service and steady leadership in difficult times."
Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) said Powell "lived a distinguished life dedicated to the service of our nation," while Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said the nation was "forever grateful for his tremendous service in uniform to our country."