The Right Job for Colin Powell

By Delaney, Paul | Nieman Reports, Winter 1995 | Go to article overview

The Right Job for Colin Powell


Delaney, Paul, Nieman Reports


The General was right. Neither Colin Powell nor his family needed the baggage of presidential politics. Digging into Alma Powell's background was only the beginning. Republican opponents, the media and, if nominated, the Democrats, were only warming up. And, as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert said, he was hanging out with the wrong crowd, anyway. To heck with George Will's 22 questions and Paul Tsongas and others declaring Powell history.

So leave diplomacy and defense to others inside the Beltway; leave politics to its narrow and dirty arena. There is a higher calling for Colin Powell, one that would serve all the interests he articulated during his brief encounter with the presidential race.

There is almost universal agreement that Powell has the ability to lead. If not, what was all the commotion about the last few months? He has the qualities we yearn for in a national leader: character, strength, solid family values, sense of purpose, the ability to get diverse groups to work together; in a word, all the things many Americans find lacking in the other guys.

Therefore, instead of trying to be President or Vice President of the United States, why shouldn't Powell take on one of the most important jobs in the country - executive Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People?

That could happen with no one missing a beat. Powell would maintain the high esteem he now enjoys from the public. He would attract more press attention since Roy Wilkins headed the NAACP. While many reporters would insist on calling him a "black leader" - to his consternation - he has shown he is way beyond the restrictions of that label.

His main task would be the same as expected of him as President, to bring us all together, to mobilize us in trying to solve the nation's most intractable social problem, race, a solution that will elude us well into the 21st Century because, "we do not wish to find it," according to John Hope Franklin, the historian. Seeking a solution fits neatly into Powell's personal aspirations as well as the NAACP's historical mission,

In that position, Powell could resuscitate the moribund civil rights movement and change the course of history, the direction the nation is headed in race relations, ushering in a new period, the Powell Era. The NAACP and the rest of the rights community have been floundering for decades in the face of expanding right-wing influence, deepening racism and growing racial animosity. The NAACP needs a man of Powell's stature to deal with increasing internal friction over the future of school desegregation, as if money were not enough of a problem. Some local chapter heads are challenging the national charter on busing and the idea of integration itself, one of the foundations of the organization.

Most white Americans are not and do not want to be party to rampant racism; they are open to multi-racial ideals and would gladly follow the right leaders. This was what they expected from General Powell's flirtation with presidential politics, the kind of leadership on race most people have been yearning for years.

As NAACP head, Colin Powell would be able to calm the strident rhetoric, cool the passions of all races - maybe even soothe the Angry White Male - and bring back the type coalitions of groups needed to deal effectively with racial issues. Jesse Jackson could retain his Rainbow Coalition, even run for president again, if he chose to do so. But Jackson would be forced to deal with Powell as head of the nation's biggest and oldest rights organization. Louis Farrakhan would still be out there, but would be less of a factor than he is now. All would have to fall in line or lose the support of many of their constituents.

And we in the media would love it. lots to cover and write about. In its glory days, the NAACP was great to cover. That was how many of us got onto big city dailies and mainstream media in the first place.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Right Job for Colin Powell
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.